Perspective

When ‘technically defeated’ terrorists refuse to be defeated

We are proud that in our time, Nigerians are once again able to travel by rail, this time in total comfort and safety, – Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information Last Monday, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed gleefully made the above statement at a press briefing he held in Abuja, to tout some of the achievements recorded by the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government. Speaking further, he said the Federal Government has performed excellently in the provision of infrastructure, especially in the area of railway services.

“Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe-Ajaokuta and Abuja Metro line are shining examples of our rail revolution. And we are just getting started.” Speaking further at the media briefing, the minister said the country is becoming safer with the successes being recorded in the fight against insurgency and banditry.

“I am proud of our security forces, our men and women in uniform. Despite a myriad of security challenges, they are living up to the billing. The recent string of successes recorded in the fight against Boko Haram and ISWAP is uplifting,” he said. “As the terrorists and their camps are being decimated, thousands of terrorists and their families are surrendering in droves.

The effectiveness of the security forces has been enhanced by the leadership provided by President Buhari and the unwavering commitment of the armed forces and its leadership. “The procurement of modern platforms for the armed forces has also gone a long way in raising the level of their operational readiness and efficiency, in addition to boosting their capabilities.” Unfortunately for him, this claim was to be punctured spectacular- ly, when later in the day, terrorists launched an audacious attack on an Abuja-Kaduna train around 8pm at Dutse village, in Chikun Local Government Area, just a few kilometres from the Rigasa Train Station, which is the last transit point of the train. In the aftermath of the attack, the Kaduna State Government confirmed eight dead and 26 injured.

Some of those killed included were, a doctor identified as Megafu Chinelo, who was billed to leave the country yesterday, Farida Sule Mohammed, a 29-year-old daughter of the National Organising Secretary of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Mallam Sule Mohammed and the Secretary- General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria, Barrister Musa-Lawal Ozigi.

Some of those who sustained gunshot wounds included Katsina State Commissioner for Health, Nuhu Danja, who lost two of his toes and a former Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Malam Ibrahim Wakkala, who was also hit in his leg. Several people are still missing and believed to be amongst those abducted are the Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, Kabir Muhammad Adamu, among others. Giving an account of the incident, an eyewitness said that the bandits planted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) along the rail track, and when the passenger train from Abuja to Kaduna got to that point, the bomb exploded, thereby causing the train to derail.

“About an hour later, soldiers were mobilized. It was at that point that soldiers were mobilized to the area about an hour later, and they were able to disperse the bandits, who also escaped with some of the hostages,” said the eyewitness. After normalcy was restored by the soldiers, the passengers walked about 45 kilometres under security cover to the Abuja- Kaduna highway, and from there, they were conveyed in buses to the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in the Kaduna State capital, where those who sustained injury were immediately treated. Then, barely 24 hours after this dastardly incident, the ‘technically defeated terrorists’ again showed that they are very much alive and kicking, by attacking another train station along the very same route – the Gidan Train Station. According to reports, the terrorists planted IEDs on the tracks, forcing the train heading to Abuja from Kaduna to a stop.

Incidentally, even before the minister’s media briefing, the nation and world had learnt of the stunning assault on the Kaduna Airport by the same bandits, which claimed the life of one person. Consequently, the attack on a facility, which is supposed to be one of the safest places in the country, has prompted airlines to suspend flights, to and fro the airport. As things stand, the capital of the old Northern Region has been effectively cut off from a large chunk of Nigeria, as failure of government to secure the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, meant that those who could not afford airfares, turned to train services, which have now been attacked twice in succession.

Thus only die-hard travellers will now play Russian roulette with their lives by making the journey to Kaduna by the only route left open – road, which has become a fertile ground for terrorists. As often in the aftermath of such incidents, security bigwigs were summoned to Aso Rock to brief Mr President after which the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor assured Nigerians that security agencies would build on the lesson learnt from the incident, adding: “The challenge of insecurity is a constant one and so the defence and security agencies need to be on their toes 24/7.

This is unfortunate and we believe that the lessons out of this are what we need to build upon going forward. “I can, perhaps, use this opportunity to reassure the nation that based on the President’s directive; we will take every necessary action, not just to apprehend those behind this dastardly act, but for them to also face justice.” And the nation’s number one citizen, President Muhammadu Buhari also waded in and directed that the immediate conclusion of all the processes for the implementation of the integrated security surveillance and monitoring solution for the Abuja to Kaduna railway line which would also be extended to cover the Lagos- Ibadan railway line.

Sadly, this is scant consolation for the families of Dr. Chinelo, Farida Sule Mohammed, Barrister Musa-Lawal Ozigi, and the others, who lost loved ones last Monday, and for the thousands of other Nigerians who have also experienced the same heartbreaks over the years. For them and millions of other Nigerians, all they want is to be able to go out their businesses or travel, confident that they will be able to carry out what should be a routine assignment, without fear of being kidnapped, or even killed. Should this ever happen, then ministers will not need to call press conferences to tout claims that are being punctured by ‘technically defeated terrorists’ since the difference will be there for all to see!

 

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