RELATIVES and family members of the victims of last month’s train attack have attacked Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, for launching his presidential campaign while their relations are in terrorists’ captivity. They also told the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to suspend plans to resume train service.
Addressing a news conference in Kaduna on Friday, the chairman of the relations of the kidnapped victims, Dr Abdulfatai Jimoh, warned the Nigerian Railway Corporation against attempts to resume train services.
He said it would be counterproductive to resume services while their loved ones were still under captivity.
The family members knocked the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi for declaring his presidential ambition a few days after the train attack which claimed eight lives, with 26 injured and hundreds of others still in the custody of the terrorists.
While condemning his act, the family members maintained that it was most uncharitable that Amaechi, under whose watch the attack occurred as a minister, could only celebrate rather than resign after the attack.
Nonetheless, Jimoh noted that after the expiration of the 72-hour-ultimatum handed down to the Federal Government, “we are happy that the government has started discussing with the abductors of our relatives. He appealed to the government to speed up the process of the negotiation for the release of their loved ones by the bandits unhurt.
“It is true that we gave the Federal Government 72 hour ultimatum which expired yesterday (Thursday) midnight.
“We are grateful to God that before the expiration of the 72 hours, we heard from the Federal Government after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday through the Minister of Information that the government is already on top of the situation with what has happened.
“We acknowledge it and we appreciate it. But what we want to add is that the government should speed up the process of discussion with them (bandits) so that they can come out to release our people soonest. This is our appeal now.
“The NRC should not be talking about reopening their services now when our people are in captivity because what is the assurance that if they start services now, people that will board the train are safe.
“What measure(s) have they put in place to guarantee the security of those that are going to patronise their services. We don’t want the reoccurrence of this.
“The first thing should be to get the captives out and then they can put adequate measures in place and resume service so that this does not happen again in future,” he said.
On the resumption of train services, the Chairman said, “we want to believe that they won’t try it and if they do, we won’t take it lightly with them because human lives are involved. We believe they won’t. We believe they won’t because they know what’s at stake.”
Also, Faitma Ciroma, whose sister is among the victims, regretted that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi even had the audacity to declare his intent to vie for the presidency shortly after the attack. She called on Nigerians not to elect the likes of the minister as president in the 2023 presidential election because “he is inhuman.”
She noted that the Minister should have resigned rather than declare for the 2023 presidency.
“The NRC mooting the idea of resuming train service is inhuman. It’s not good at all.
“The authority needs to sit down and think on how to rescue those in captivity and not the resumption of train service. What’s train service compared to human lives? That means human lives are not valued by the authority?
“The Minister of Transportation is not helpful. Nigerians should not elect him as president. He shouldn’t be elected at all if this is what he has to offer,” she said.
Meanwhile, one of the relatives, Dr Abdulkarim Atta, has said that the terrorists reached out to him 11 times, adding that the terrorists told him that “they have their targets.” Atta, who’s 85-year-old mother and sister were among those kidnapped, explained that he was given the opportunity by the bandits to talk to his aged mother and sister before the release of the Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Ali-Hassan.
He said the bandit had told him that they did what they did because, ‘the state governor, (Malam Nasir El-Rufai) has been running his mouth and that’s why they came to his doorstep and that this is just the beginning. That they would go further than this.”