The abductors of over 60 passengers of the Abuja-Kaduna bound train on March 28, 2022, have threatened to kill their captives, if the Federal Government fails to meet their demands in seven days.
The terrorists issued the threat in an audio message to Malam Tukur Mamu, the spokesperson of renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Mahmud Gumi.
In their conversation, the spokesperson for the terrorists, claimed that the May 24 resumption date of the Abuja-Kaduna train service was suspended because of them (terrorists).
The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) had postponed the planned resumption of train services on the Abuja-Kaduna route, even as some lawyers, on May 20, filed lawsuits seeking to stop the train services, until adequate protection of citizens against terrorists is assured.
The postponement was linked to the protest by relatives of the abductees to ensure their family members are released before train service resumes.
However, the terrorists claimed that, “the government suspended the resumption of the train service, indefinitely, because of our threats and, we repeat, if our conditions are not met, the resumption of the train service is to the detriment of the government and the passengers.
“We don’t need money. We have a good reason for doing what we did; until our demands are met, none of the victims will come out alive even if it means we all die with them. They are well taken care of as you can see from the pictures we sent to you via WhatsApp, but we assure you that this will not continue.
“We choose you (Tukur Mamu) to convey this important message to the government, the families of the victims and Nigerians in general, because we believe you won’t alter our message and we have seen you severally with Sheikh Gumi in the forest, therefore, we recognise the fearlessness in you.”
The leader of the terrorists; Abu Barra, said the abduction was a retaliation for the arrest and detention of their children by the security agencies.
“Our children numbering about eight, between the ages of one to seven years, are currently being held at an orphanage in Jimeta, Adamawa State, under the supervision of the Nigerian Army.
“The names of our children are; Abdulrahman, Bilkisu, Usman, Ibrahim and Juwairiyyah. They were forcefully taken from our wives in Nasarawa and taken to the orphanage in Yola. For any continued discussion on the release of these passengers and a safe resumption of the train service, our children must be released unconditionally. Only then would we release some of the abducted victims, especially the women, while other passengers will be released on a prisoner exchange with some of our arrested comrades by the government,” he said.
Abu Barra said that the pictures of the passengers they sent earlier were among some of the pictures they sent to the negotiation team of the government, as proof of the well-being of the victims. They said since then, the government had been lacklustre.
Barra said they decided to come to a GSM enabled location with one of the female victims to talk to Malam Mamu, and as a confirmation of their claims.
Mamu said he could hear her cries with a very low voice that probably indicates exhaustion, pleading with him to please talk to the government on their behalf, for a swift intervention on their release.
He threatened that, “If the government decided not to respond, so be it. We are warning Nigerians, especially those that are patronising the train, that if this matter is not resolved peacefully, the day they decide to attack us or do anything funny, passengers or commuters should forget to use the train or follow the Abuja-Kaduna road because we will be consistent, and they can’t stop us. We believe that you will deliver this message as it is.
“Therefore, we rely on you and urge you to convey this important message to everyone.”
In his response, Malam Mamu, who said he understood the predicament of the government in resolving the abduction, however, noted that every responsible government will look into saving innocent passengers’ lives and make painful compromises where necessary, even if it’s against the policy of the administration.
Malam Mamu then explained that prisoner exchange with known criminals on matters of national interest is a global practice and has happened in many developed countries like the United States.
He stressed the need to avoid any military action that would lead to collateral damage and the loss of innocent lives.
“Time is not on our side, the government must understand that they are dealing with persons with a misguided ideology and tainted religious belief. These people are not scared of death, they seem to believe that they are martyrs when they die. It will be a serious mistake to take this threat lightly. I believe an opportunity has been created for us to explore to save the lives of those innocent victims.
“For me, if these innocent people will regain their freedom because of my involvement, and provided that will lead to relative peace and security on our highways and rail lines, I wouldn’t mind if I die in the process. We must accept the fact that security alone on the Abuja-Kaduna highways remain more fragile than ever, and the solution is not militarily alone, especially in a country where impending attacks can hardly be dictated and stopped,” he said.