•NRC disowns online passengers’ manifest
•Terrorists contact families, say missing persons are with them
By Dirisu Yakubu
More than 48 hours after terrorists attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train, Monday night, Nigerians are yet to know the number of passengers on board.
Recall that the attacked train, which left at least eight passengers dead and 41 injured, saw the disappearance of scores of passengers.
Terrorists contact passengers’
This is even as the terrorists, who went away with some of the passengers, have started calling their families to say their loved ones are with them.
Although the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, said in a statement, Tuesday, that 398 passengers bought tickets for the trip, and that only 362 of the tickets were actually validated for the trip, initial reports on the attack, which claimed 970 passengers were on board the ill-fated train has not been refuted by the authorities.
Consequently, families yet to find their loved ones on board have become anxious to get the manifest to ascertain the names, and number of persons who made the trip are in the dark as to the number of passengers on board the train at the time of the attack.
NRC disowns online passengers’ manifest
However, a manifest of passengers on board the train was circulated on social media yesterday, but the NRC dismissed it as fake.
Efforts made, yesterday, to get confirmation of the actual number of passengers on board the train from the Chief Executive Officer of the NRC, Freeborn Okhiria, proved abortive, as he refused to respond to calls made to his mobile phone, even as text messages sent to the phone were unreplied.
But dismissing the manifest that surfaced on social media, yesterday, Public Relations Officer of the NRC, Mahmood Yakubu, told Vanguard on phone: “We have not put out any list. Efforts are being made to do so but right now, we are in Kaduna to see wounded victims who are currently receiving medical attention. So, I don’t know the source of the list in circulation online.”
Reacting in a similar manner, Pascal Nnoli, Manager of Idu train station, Abuja, said: “NRC has not released any official manifest of that train. So, I doubt the authenticity of the manifest.”
However, an official of NRC at the station, who pleaded anonymity, said: “The corporation is trying to reach out to the families concerned, particularly those who lost loved ones.
“We want to register our sympathy before releasing any name. This is all about the humanity in us.”
Vanguard gathered yesterday that the terrorists who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train service at Dutse village on Monday night, have phoned one of the families of the missing passengers.
They were said to have called a family to inform them that their daughter and others taken away by them were in their camps.
Terrorists yet to demand ransome
A source close to the family said the bandits called on Tuesday night but did not request for ransom.
“They called Tuesday night and told us our sister and other missing passengers are with them in their camps and that she is safe. They didn’t talk more than that.
“We are praying to God for intervention and her safety. We are pleading with the kidnappers to release her to us,” the source said.