By Nnamdi Ojiego
Following the release of all the abducted victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, over N6 billion may have been paid to the terrorists to set most of their captives free.
Terrorists attacked an Abuja-Kaduna passenger train on March 28, 2022, in which about 14 persons were killed and 63 officially declared abducted.
The attack, however, forced the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, to temporarily suspend activities while President Muhammadu Buhari directed security agencies to rescue the victims.
23 remaining captives were, on Wednesday, released almost six months after they were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists.
The cheering news was conveyed by Usman Yusuf, Secretary, Chief of Defence Staff Action Committee, CDSAC.
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A Presidential Committee, reportedly set up by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, to look into the abduction of victims of the Kaduna-Abuja train attack, secured the release of the remaining victims in the terrorists’ captivity.
Yusuf in a statement said: “I am pleased to announce to the nation and the world that at 1600Hrs (4:00 pm) today, Wednesday, 5-10-2022, the seven-man Presidential Committee assembled by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General L.E.O. Irabor, secured the release and took custody of all the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on 28-3-2022”.
Prior to the release of the remaining 23 hostages, some 40 abductees were released in groups after alleged payment of N100m ransom each.
Though the government and its agents have denied paying any ransom to the terrorists, reports said victims’ families were made to cough out N100 million each to secure the release of their loved ones.
“The terrorists collected the ransom in naira and US dollars. Only N200 million was collected in naira, the remaining N600 million was paid in the equivalent of US dollars,” one of the victims’ relations told journalists.
Another relative of the victims, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed to AIT.live via telephone that ransom money was paid, though he could not state the precise amount.
Meanwhile, Tukur Mamu, Publisher of the Desert Herald newspaper, who negotiated the release of seven hostages from the terrorists, insisted he was not aware of the payment of ransom to secure the release of the hostages.
While reacting to a report in the media that six Nigerian hostages paid N100 million each, while the seventh hostage, a Pakistani, paid N200 million before they were released, Mamu said the report may have been “exaggerated”.
“Money cannot achieve what I have done today. And I will never involve myself in any issue that has to do with money, Mr Manu claimed while announcing the release of the hostages”, he said after one of the batches of hostages whose freedom he claimed to have negotiated was freed..
Mamu was arrested by INTERPOL in early September in Egypt on his way to Saudi Arabia for Hajj on the instruction of the Nigerian authorities. Extradited to Nigeria, he is being held by the Department of State Service (DSS) on charges of collusion with “local and international terrorists”.
Going by media reports and family sources that each victim outside of the last 23 paid N100m to regain their freedom, and the criminals received over N6 billion in ransom payments.
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