TERRORISTS who abducted passengers on the Abuja-Kaduna train have freed the remaining 23 hostages in their custody.
The minister of Transportation Mu’azu Sambo announced this today on his Twitter handle.
The release followed months of public outcry against the attack, and the government’s seeming ineptness in rescuing the victims.
Terrorists bombed the train on March 28 and killed an undisclosed number of its passengers before whisking dozens of others into an unknown destination.
While the government worked to rescue the hostages, it suspended the train services, which it took loans to build.
The terrorists had released a few of the abductees in batches in the past months, with reports claiming each released abductee paid as much as N100 million in ransom.
It is unclear if the government paid a ransom to secure the victims’ release today.
Reports on previous government’s engagements with terrorists showed how it swapped criminals in detention for abductees it sought to rescue.
Announcing the release, the minister said, “I am pleased to announce to the nation and the world that at 16:00hrs (4:00 pm) today, Wednesday 5-10-22, the seven-man Presidential Committee assembled by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Leo 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.
“The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian military under the leadership of the CDS, who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish. All sister security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this operation.
“The unwavering support of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, is what made it all possible.“
On Wednesday, September 7, the country’s secret police, the Directorate of State Services (DSS), arrested the lead negotiator for the release of the abducted passengers, Tukur Mamu.
Mamu, the publisher of Desert Herald newspaper and spokesperson for the Kaduna-based Islamic cleric Ahmad Gumi, was arrested by Egyptian authorities while on his way to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj, and was repatriated to Nigeria.
Among other charges, the Nigerian government has accused him of terrorism financing.
Nine days after the attack on the train, terrorists released the Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Ali-Hassan, who was among the abductees.
There were claims he paid N100 million for his release, but there was no public evidence to confirm the allegations.
On July 9, the terrorists released seven more persons abducted from the train.
The group had also, on August 2, released five hostages.