By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari said, yesterday, that his decision to stop maximum use of military force against terrorists to rescue the remaining victims of the Kaduna train attack was to avoid collateral damage.
The president stated this when he met in Abuja with representatives of victims of the train abduction, assuring them that the Federal Government was doing everything within its powers to ensure the safe return of the remaining captives.
Condoling with families of the victims and those who lost their loved ones, Buhari said since the “terrible and cowardly attack by the criminal elements” on March 28, 2022, the nation had joined them to endure a period of difficulty and emotional pains.
He told representatives of the families that in the immediate aftermath of the incident, several actions had been taken by government to bring succour to the affected families and prevent a recurrence in the country.
He also explained his reason for discarding the use of lethal military force in extracting the remaining abductees.
The president in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said: “I have been informed that at last count, there remained about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers and our determination is to work towards returning these 31 people to their families.
Why I stopped military force on rescue efforts —Buhari
“It is understandable that emotions typically run high, we have received several suggestions about the deployment of lethal military force in extracting those still being held in captivity. This option has, indeed, been considered and evaluated.
“However, the condition to guarantee a successful outcome and minimize potential collateral damage could not be assured and, therefore, that course of action had to be reluctantly discarded. My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt.”
On his recent instruction to security and law enforcement agencies to bring an end to inhumane action against innocent Nigerians, the president said: “Judging by the available reports to me and news that have begun emerging in the last few days, I wish to say they have heard this instruction and are responding appropriately.
“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop or reduce.
“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country. Each one of them will be hunted and pursued and spoken to in the language they understand.”
Commends police force
President Buhari also commended the bravery and gallant actions taken by members of the Police Force who were onboard the train on that fateful day.
According to him, “it is clear that their actions saved many lives and by making the ultimate sacrifice, they must be recognised for their bravery.”
Buhari added that he had never doubted the ability or confidence of those who have presented themselves to defend the country, adding that the Kaduna train incident had reinforced the belief and faith of the nation in this special group of Nigerians.
“I also would like to use this opportunity to say that we are cognizant of events that have unsettled our citizens in various parts of our nation and in the capital.
“I would like to comfort those who were traumatised by these tragic events and pledge that our response is to protect all Nigerians wherever they are.”
In his remarks, Minister of Transportation, Jaji Sambo, said in the first week of his resumption in the ministry, he met with the relatives of the victims of the Kaduna train attack, updating them of all efforts the government was making to ensure safe return of their loved ones.
He described the audience with the president as a manifestation of the efforts by this administration to secure the release of all captives and proof that “government is not resting on its oars.”
Victims’ families appeal to Buhari
A representative of the victims of the train abduction, Sabiu Mohammed, appealed to the Federal Government to assist the families in the release of their remaining loved ones still in captivity.
“Please we want to see our loved ones and many have found themselves in very critical situations. We do not have the money they (kidnappers) are demanding. Please, Mr. President, we know you are doing your best…please, please we want to see our loved ones,” Mohammed said.