Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Wednesday, tackled the Federal Government over its planned resumption of train services along the Abuja-Kaduna route, saying it is suicidal to contemplate such resumption without first ensuring foolproof security for the passengers.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said the government must first arrest the perpetrators of the March 28, 2022 terrorist attack where scores of passengers were kidnapped and others numbering over four dozens killed/maimed by marauders who bombed a moving train and opened fire on harmless passengers. These terrorists that bombed the Kaduna bound train also took away hostages they kept for 6 Months and were frequently video recorded by these terro masterminds receiving caning and other kinds of physical tortures. The Terrorists negotiator arrested by DSS and accused sensationally of aiding and abetting the train terror attack was dragged to court but suddenly the case was dropped by the Department of State Services for reasons not made known to the public unlike when the DSS embarked on massive media trial of the said arrested train terrorists negotiator Tukur Mamu.
The group also faulted the requirement reeled out of late by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) that passengers on the route must register their phone numbers and National Identification Number (NIN) at the point of ticket purchase.
According to HURIWA, bandits and terrorists with registered phone numbers and valid NINs have continued that kidnap-for-ransom business while the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami and his team have failed to track any of these criminals using their NINs.
The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Transportation, earlier in November, said the Abuja-Kaduna train services will resume later in the month but on Sunday, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, extended the resumption date for Abuja-Kaduna rail services and did not give a specific date for the resumption.
He claimed that the government had introduced a new system of purchasing tickets, which he said was the beginning of security checks.
Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “Resuming the Abuja-Kaduna train services along the volatile forests of the North-West without tight technology-driven security is suicidal. Beyond the use of NIN which has failed in tracking bandits and kidnappers, the Federal Government should come up with sure-proof means of identifying passengers onboard. Also there was a botched Information technology driven security architecture project for Railways which the former minister of Transportation Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi reportedly tendered before the Federal Executive Council for approval but which was thrown out due to infighting within the corridors-of-power because the security of the poor masses is none of the concerns of those at the top echelons of government today who mostly use private aircraft to travel.
“HURIWA is yet befuddled on how NIN will stop terrorists from emerging from the bush and ambushing travellers like they did in March. Where are the anti-bomb devices attached to the trains on that route? What of special security or patrol covering the route? What about drone or aerial surveillance to monitor the movement of the trains along the route each time in operation? Where are the blades installed around train coaches to slice would-be attackers? Where are the electric shocks? Without any of these done, government will successfully expose innocent citizens to avoidable risks. In fact, one just wonder whether this government thinks at all!
“The Muhammadu Buhari regime must first arrest those terrorists who derailed the train to Kaduna, killed many and took hostages for over five months before being allegedly paid to free them. The victims must get justice before all the jejune talks of resumption of train services along the route.
“This government is insensitive to begin to talk about resumption of train services when insecurity is still overwhelming and government has no backup plan to provide foolproof security for the passengers.”
November 30, 2022
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.