By Victoria Ojeme
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said yesterday he was never attacked by bandits at Rigasa in Kaduna State.
He also said the provision of security by the federal government for passengers travelling by train from Abuja to Kaduna ends at the train stations.
Amaechi, who stated this at Rigasa train station on his way back to Abuja, insisted there was no truth in the report that he escaped abduction in the hands of bandits when his convoy made a detour to Rigasa road on Sunday night.
The Minister said he neither heard nor saw any bandit nor heard any gunshot, contrary to report which said there was an exchange of fire between bandits and some mobile policemen and soldiers in an armoured car which saved train passengers from an ambush around Mando area.
He said: “Nothing happened, I came down here, entered my car and went to the hotel. I don’t know if anybody was attacked but me, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, wasn’t attacked. I didn’t hear any gunshot; I didn’t see anybody.
“If people were attacked after I left, I have no idea. If I was attacked, why should I hide it; I should be proud to say I was attacked and they were repelled by soldiers or policemen and then advise the state government.
“Whether its true or not, they still need to put security on the road because when I passed yesterday, I didn’t see soldiers.”
However, an unidentified person who was with the minister at the time, interjected, saying there was a bandit attack which was repelled by security agents.
“They (soldiers) were around, they are the ones that replied the bandits. They attacked passengers but didn’t kill anybody. They attacked around past 8 : 15 pm,’’ he said.
But Amaechi responded, saying the attacks must have happened after he left the premises of the train station, but advised passengers to stop following shorter route out of the train station.
He also advised passengers to ensure they followed the main route, saying they were responsible for their safety once they leave the train station.
Amaechi added: “Whether true or false, they need to reinforce security or people should stop using that road and use this main road, even though this one is longer, it appears safer.
“Secondly our own issue of security ends here. The moment any passenger leaves here, you are on your own. We are not a state government, we are not the IG of police. We protect passengers up to this point. When you leave here and enter your car or taxi, that is not our responsibility or does the ticket include that?
“When people say train, they give the impression that people are attacked in the train. Nobody has been attacked in the train since we started running, we have armed police men in the train.
‘’They are fully armed, they are not joking. if you throw a stone, they will shoot you.
“Inside the train you are safe, between Abuja and Kaduna you are safe, the government of Kaduna is also making efforts to ensure people are safe in Kaduna.”