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Families of Abuja-Kaduna train abductees accuse Amaechi, NRC of apathy

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FAMILIES of passengers abducted on the Abuja-Kaduna train on Monday said Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) are not committed to the rescue of the victims.

Representatives of the abductees’ families accused the minister and the railway commission of apathy at a press briefing in Abuja.

The press briefing came forty-two days after the passengers were abducted by terrorists who attacked the Kaduna-bound train.

Zara Aliyu, who spoke on behalf of the families, demanded the quick and safe rescue of the abductees.

Aliyu also criticised the manner Amaechi has been handling the matter.

“We must register our displeasure with the way and manner the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, has been handling this tragic event ever since it occurred.

“Just a few days after 28th March, Mr Amaechi was seen running around the stadium in Port Harcourt where he declared his intention to become the next President of Nigeria. We had expected Mr Amaechi to be running around as to how to get his abducted passengers rescued and this is highly disappointing,” she said.

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Idayat added that the train stations should remain shut down till all the abductees are found and called for sanctions on the management of the NRC.

“Mr President directed the management of the NRC to establish a situation room to give a minute by minute account of rescue efforts to the relatives of kidnapped passengers.

“Still, one week after this presidential directive was issued, NRC has neither contacted the relatives of kidnapped victims nor established any situation room. This display of gross incompetence and insensitivity should lead to the appropriate punishment,” she said.

Speaking to The ICIR, Nike Abdulrahman, who has two sisters still in captivity, decried the attitude of officials of the railway commission.

“They (NRC) are not helping the situation. They’ve not shown enough empathy and understanding to the predicament of the families. It has been a sad situation. From the minister of state to the management of the NRC, it has been a harrowing experience.

“They have not been reaching out. They have not been cooperating. They have not been showing commitment to the rescue operation,” she said.

Nike said her family had struggled with anxiety over the state of the abductees and urged the government to hasten their release.

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“It’s a sad experience when you have two prominent members of the family who have been the parent figures, who sustain the family. It’s been a sad experience froth with uncertainty. You don’t know what’s been happening to them or their predicament. We have some of them that are still going through their cycles. For a woman, you don’t have sanitary towels to do all that.

“We are appealing to the government to please come to our aid. We are appealing passionately because we cannot help ourselves. We are begging the government to please come up and help kidnap victims all over Nigeria especially the AK9 train,” she said.

Also speaking with The ICIR, Philemon Asomba, whose cousin had been abducted, recounted his experience since the incident.

“My cousin was going to Kaduna for an eye treatment. Why we are so troubled is that he was shot on the hand and they still took him to the forest. And since then, it was only once that they contacted us. It is not within our reach to get him out of that place. We are pleading with the government to assist us,” he said.

For twelve-year-old Umma Hani, life has been difficult following the kidnap of her aunt by the terrorists.

“Everyone is so sad. We can’t eat well. My cousins are so unhappy. On Salah day, they could not even celebrate, but my mum had to encourage them. We never expected it to take this long,” she said.

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Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via vopara@icirnigeria.org

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