By Ezra Ukanwa, Abuja.
Federal Government secured the release of the last batch of hostages kidnapped by terrorists during the attack on Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28, 2022 without paying a Kobo, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo has said.
Addressing journalists at a press briefing aimed at receiving and providing updates of the Kaduna-Abuja train victims at the Ministry, in Abuja, the Minister expressed joy over the successful release of the victims after staying about six months, and seven days in captivity.
Stating that a committee of retired Generals assisted in securing the release of the victims, he maintained that the Buhari-led administration did not approve or support ransom payments for the release of the 23 victims.
“Because this government does not support and approve ransom payment, no Kobo was paid in exchange for the release of these 23 hostages and even for the release of the other hostages.
“I want you to know that there is a committee made up of some retired generals and some retired public officers of high ranking status who assisted the military and the security agencies throughout the process of securing the release of these hostages” he said.
According to the Minister, the victims were reunited with their families shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, who was at Kaduna at the time, adding that as soon as the release of the hostages was secured, they were taken to a Military hospital in Kaduna where adequate health care was provided for them.
Commenting on when the Federal Government would commence commercial railway services, he said with the successful release of the victims Abuja-Kaduna rail services will soon resume operations.
He said strict measures, are being put in place to ensure safe resumption of commercial railway services, adding that the government would rather halt rail services all through the country just to secure the lives of Nigerians.
“It is now six months and seven days that the commercial train service on the road has been suspended and it is imperative to also let you know that the reconstruction and repairs of the damage rail line was carried has since been carried out by Nigerian engineers of the Nigerian railway Corporation.
“Since the incident occurred, government has at various times interfaced with the relatives of the kidnapped victims to assure them that government was doing everything at securing their loved ones and encourage them to remain steadfast and prayerful, as government was doing its best to secure the release while avoiding collateral damage”, he said.