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RELEASE OF KIDNAPPED TRAIN PASSENGERS: How ex-generals, Gumi’s spokesman, prof convinced terrorists

June 12, 2022

Following the lease of 11 kidnapped Abuja-bound train passengers, indications have emerged that an associate of Sheik Ahmad Gumi, Malam Tukur Mamu, spearheaded the dialogue that led to the release of the captives by terrorists.

Mamu, who doubles as the spokesman for Gumi, acted as a middle man and lead negotiator between the Federal Government and the terrorists.

The victims were said to have been released yesterday after a series of negotiations with their abductors.

Confirming the development, Mamu said male captors were released on health grounds while females were categorized among the vulnerable and were let go for that reason.
The abductees were kidnapped on March 28, 2022, when terrorists attacked an Abuja-Kaduna-bound train.

Some passengers were killed in the incident that saw no fewer than 61 people being abducted.

A week after the attack, the terrorists released a video showing the captives in pitiable conditions, stressing that they did not want money but the release of their children. They later warned that if their condition was not met, they would commence immediate execution of their unfortunate “guests.”

The terrorists later released two people, one of them, the Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, who was said to have allegedly paid about N100million and a pregnant woman, who was reportedly released on compassionate grounds. Earlier, the abductors had demanded the release of eight of their children said to have been in the custody of government.

Since then, family members of the victims have held several press conferences, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue the abductees unhurt.

Orders
Last month, representatives of the families of the abductees threatened to disrupt the planned resumption of train service on the Abuja-Kaduna route by the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, following the completion of works on the damaged portion of the rail corridor, unless their abductees were first rescued and made to reunite with their respective families.

Confirming the release of the victims, Mamu, said they were flown to Abuja on the orders of President Buhari for medical evaluation and treatment.


Mamu said some retired generals and a renowned professor at Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto, were among the team of experts that facilitated their release.
He, however, said contrary to their, terrorists, earlier commitment to release all women in their custody, 11 victims were released yesterday.

“They released six females and five males. They include Jessy John, Amina Ba’aba Mohammed, Rashida Yusuf Busari, Hannah Ajewole, Amina Jibril, Najib Mohammed Daiharu, Gaius Gambo, Hassan Aliyu, Peace A. Boy and Danjuma Sa’idu,” he added.

Negotiations
Asked to give the full details of the process that led to the release of the 11 victims, Mamu said disclosing everything will jeopardize ongoing negotiations for the release of the remaining victims.

He said: “We have succeeded in building confidence now. We will do everything to sustain it in the interest of the innocent victims that are still in captivity. It is a painful and frustrating process but it must be done if we are to secure the precious lives of the remaining victims.

“The good news is that our collective efforts have succeeded in securing the release of 11 of the victims so far. With the continued support of the federal government, all the remaining victims will be released soon.


“President Buhari must be commended for understanding the gravity of the crisis and for giving directives to the security agencies. The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Irabo, has done excellently well under the circumstances. The Army and the Department of State Security Service,DSS, have played crucial roles. There is no military solution to this predicament.

“But behind the scene, Sheikh Gumi by Allah’s will made it possible. He was involved from the day I started. In fact, I accepted that role because of his directives to that effect. Even the final arrangement of how and the safest place to get the victims was arranged and coordinated by him.”

Children
On whether the children of the terrorists were released in line with the abductors’ demand and if money was involved, he said: “I think it is government that is supposed to respond to that question. We are only concerned stakeholders with the privilege to complement government efforts but I can assure you and I can confirm that no money is involved. I believe the urgent priority now for government is to safely secure the release of the remaining victims”.

“Even after that is done, there should be security, especially on the rail lines and that can only be achieved through mediation and not the use of force because it is now very clear to everybody that our roads, our rail lines are vulnerable to attacks. Using the train, especially for Abuja-Kaduna travels in view of the decaying condition of that road and its security implications remains the safest way.

“It is now clear that if government did not explore the opportunity for dialogue, especially with this particular armed group, no one can guarantee total safety of passengers on the rail lines and the government will continue to lose millions in revenue.

“What we achieved today after nearly three months of the abduction is the result of dialogue and engagement which the use of force cannot achieve. Our security agencies are very much capable of confronting them but there is a dilemma whenever the lives of innocent citizens are involved. They can be used as a human shield.

“I want to put it on record that for personal reasons, I will henceforth disengage from the voluntary service of this ongoing dialogue to secure the release of the remaining victims. Already, I have succeeded in opening a channel of communication and building trust between the representatives of the government and the abductors. I have also succeeded in dousing the tension and earlier threat of execution.

“I believe government can now explore this opportunity to ensure that the remaining victims are released in good time. Even though the release of the eleven victims is a huge milestone I am disappointed that they failed to give us all the women as we earlier agreed. But I believe even if it is one life that we succeeded in securing, the reward is unquantifiable before Allah”

Relative speaks
Meanwhile, in an exclusive chat with Sunday Vanguard, Hassan Muhammed, whose relation is among those in captivity, said: “We are tired and we don’t even know what to say or do. The kidnappers spoke to us once and since then, they haven’t contacted us. We are traumatized. It is so shameful that a government whose responsibility it is to protect its citizens is yet to get anything meaningful done.

“Every day, we pray and hope that something good will happen. We stay alert all night, hoping for some positive developments. We are alive only because we are still breathing. It is not easy to live a normal life when your loved ones are in captivity.

“Some government officials from the Federal Ministry of Defence reached out to us recently. They told us that everything was being done to rescue our loved ones but we haven’t seen anything that suggests a glimmer of hope.

“The silence of the Presidency is disturbing even though we trust in God to intervene,” he said.

Also speaking, Asmau Abubakar, spokesperson of the families reiterated the willingness of the families to negotiate with the terrorists only if the latter would be willing to open up a channel of communication.

Her words: “We are torn between the devil and the deep blue sea. If they (terrorists) are willing to talk, the families are willing to negotiate with them. Apart from the first time they called us, we have not heard from them. We have not been able to reach out to them with the number they used in calling us. It is so frustrating.

Lamenting the agony the families have been made to go through, Abubakar urged the Buhari-led government not to forget that it is in its interest to negotiate the freedom of the abductees as the abductors “have nothing to lose.”

“We are trying everything to get the attention of the United Nations, Amnesty International and the various embassies to assist us in these trying times. We hope that the federal government will be willing to assist these bodies to rescue our people.

“Security in the land has collapsed because if there was security, there would be no need for negotiations,” she added.

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