On Saturday night, terrorists again attacked another railway facility in Nigeria. This time, they attacked a Nigerian Railway Corporation substation in Igueben, Edo state, firing sporadically and injuring many people in the process. By the end of their operation, they had kidnapped about 30 people there, including passengers and station staff.
The attack on the Igueben railway station is a sad reminder of the Kaduna train attack some 10 months ago, on March 28, 2022, when terrorists, later identified as ISWAP members, attacked an Abuja-bound train. during which eight passengers were killed and another 62 kidnapped. Of course, being the first time something like this would happen in Nigeria, it caused a huge uproar between the families of the affected victims on one side and the government on the other, with the former insisting that train operations would not resume until all their loved ones were freed from the kidnappers’ lair. In fact, the terrorists continued to release the captives little by little, apparently after the payment of the ransom demands, reaching hundreds of millions of naira. The kidnappers kept their victims in custody for more than six months, while the Buhari administration insisted that it would not raid their hideout so as not to put the lives of the captives at risk. The federal government was able to release the last batch of 23 captives on October 6, 2022, while the Abuja-Kaduna train service resumed operations on December 5, 2022.
This newspaper recalls that one of the conversations around the resumption of train operations revolved around securing the train facilities and its passengers so that they do not suffer this type of terrorist attack again. Therefore, it is of great concern that just a month after the resumption of operations in the Abuja-Kaduna corridor, another similar attack occurs in the Edo axis, this time not on a moving train, but on a railway station. .
Kidnappers Contact Families of Edo Train Station Attack Victims
According to media reports, eyewitnesses said that the hijackers were able to successfully carry out that operation because the train station was not protected by security personnel.
One of them said: “The train station is in the forest; there is no security; no police; no watchman and they (captives) are at the mercy of God. The station is in the town of Igueben, just 1.2 km from the General Hospital of Igueben”.
And that’s the worrying part. How come such a facility had no police or other security cover, especially in light of our recent past as a country? Does it mean that no lessons were learned from the Kaduna incident by law enforcement agencies, the NRC, and other stakeholders?
Following the attack, local authorities said security agencies and paramilitary organizations were combing the area’s forests in an attempt to find the perpetrators of the crime and free the captives.
Nigeria Railway Corporation also announced the closure of the railway station until further notice, while the Edo state government confirmed that at least one of the hijackers had been arrested by security officers and hunters in the area.
As a newspaper, we do not expect the protracted hostage saga of the Kaduna train attack in which the victims were at the mercy of their captors for some seven months, including a pregnant captive who gave birth in the bush. Furthermore, the soft handling of the Kaduna incident by the federal government may have emboldened the outlaws to strike again in Edo State, hoping to raise billions like their Kaduna counterparts. This time, the federal government needs to deploy its arsenal with the help of technology to eliminate these bandits and send a message to other criminals thinking of rescuing Nigerians that such crime can no longer be tolerated in any form; of course, with the necessary consideration for the safety of the captives.
Luckily, one of the hijackers was said to have been arrested. Investigators must protect it from any internal sabotage and make full use of it to solve this case and stop those behind this criminal act.
As a newspaper, we acknowledge and appreciate the recent military crackdown on terrorists and bandits in the northern part of Nigeria, which led to the elimination of many bandits and terrorists and the surrender of thousands more. However, they should see this latest attack on the Igeben train station in Edo state as an opportunity to send a clear signal to the outlaws that enough is enough.