THE Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) has reportedly suspended the Lagos-Kano and Ajaokuta train services due threats of terrorist attacks.
It was also learnt that the NRC suspended services at the Ajaokuta train station along the Warri-Itakpe route after an attack on some passengers by gunmen on Monday.
According to Punch, Managing Director of the NRC Fidet Okhiria confirmed the suspension of the train services on Tuesday.
“We have not stopped (services); rather, what we said was that we are not going to be stopping at the Ajaokuta station.
“This is because yesterday (Monday), while passengers were leaving the station with their private cars and buses, they had people shooting at them. So we said we will not stop there again for passengers.
“The train is still running, but for now, we will not be stopping at Ajaokuta because they have some concerns there. We heard that they removed their traditional ruler in that location and the local government chairman there,” he said.
According to him, apart from the Abuja-Kaduna route, the corporation had also suspended services on the Lagos-Kano route because of security concerns.
Okhiria, however, stated that the Federal Government had improved security on the rail tracks, adding that more men from the police and civil defence were being deployed to protect the facilities.
He said operations will continue on the Lagos-Ibadan train as well as others, apart from the Abuja-Kaduna and Lagos-Kano services.
Also speaking on the shooting at the Ajaokuta train station, the Commissioner of Police, Railway Command, Yetunde Alonge, explained that the incident happened after passengers had left the station.
“We are collaborating with the host Command so that they can give us support in places too remote by extending their patrol to enable us to meet at a point to synergise and ensure the security of those places are intact,” Yetunde said.
Also on Tuesday, Minister of Transportation Mu’azu Sambo said the Abuja-Kaduna train service would not resume operations until passengers kidnapped from the train were reunited with their families.
The minister spoke while addressing journalists at the Idu train station in Abuja.
“It is very important to get those Nigerians that have been kidnapped reunited with their families; otherwise, it will appear the government is not sensitive,” he said.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday in Abuja, said the country is making meaningful progress in taming insecurity through collaboration across borders.
Meanwhile, reports emerged on Tuesday that five of the passengers who were abducted by terrorists during the attack on the Kaduna-bound train on March 28 have been released.
According to Daily Trust, the development was confirmed by a Kaduna-based publisher, Tukur Mamu, who was engaged in negotiations for the release of the abducted passengers.
The freed passengers were identified as Mustapha Umar Imam, a medical doctor at the Usman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital (UDUS), Sokoto, Akibu Lawal, Abubakar Ahmed Rufai, Muktar Shuaibu and Sidi Aminu Sharif.
It is unclear if any ransom was paid for the release of the abductees on Tuesday.
The ICIR reported that three other passengers abducted by terrorists during the Abuja-Kaduna train attack were released on July 25.
Family members of one of the freed passengers, identified as Hassan Usman, a lawyer, reportedly said N100 million ransom was paid to the terrorists before he was released.