By Chinelo Obogo
The Presidency has said that the terrorists who kidnapped passengers from the Kaduna bound train reneged on the agreement reached even though the Federal Government met their demands. The information comes hours after President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday met with the relatives of more than 60 passengers who were kidnapped in March 2022. During the meeting, Buhari stressed that his government would not use force to rescue their relatives, saying “my priority is to release them alive.”
In an interview with BBC Hausa on Friday, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, said that the government granted the terrorists’ leader’s request to release his pregnant wife, “but they came up with other requests”.
Apart from his wife and children who were released, Shehu said that the terrorist again asked for the release of some children who were arrested in Adamawa State, but that even after the release of those children, the terrorists still did not release the abducted train passengers as requested.
“The terrorist leader demanded the release of his pregnant wife. The government took her to the hospital and she gave birth to twins. He was shown that his wife and children were healthy and they were handed over to his parents.
“During the night, the government sent a plane to pick them up. We expect that if they are given these, they will release all the people that they are holding. But what happened next was that they said they needed money. So don’t say the government doesn’t have anything,” Shehu said.
When the bandits released 11 of the passengers in June, the mediator in the discussion, Mr. Tukur Mamu said that this was not the promise made by the terrorists. Some sources told the mediator that the bandits have reduced the number of people they said they would release because of the request made by the Federal Government, where they also set their own conditions.
“Initially, it was agreed that they would release all the women in their custody while the release of the other people were being negotiated, but then they reduced the number of people they would release because the government wanted to include all those who were facing serious illness or injuries,” said Mamu at that time.
“The kidnappers set the condition that they would release the people only if the government released their young children (under 20 years old) who were arrested by the security forces. But they reneged on their promise,” Mantu stated.