The gunmen who kidnapped 31 Edo train passengers on Saturday reportedly demanded a ransom of N620m for their release.
the punch They collected on Monday that the criminals had presented their demands to the families of the kidnapped.
The Executive Director, Esan Youth for Good Governance and Social Justice, Benson Odia, revealed that the kidnappers demanded N20 million for each victim.
This was when the police’s anti-terror squad and the Nigerian Railways Corporation met on Monday to strategize on ways to rescue the passengers from the train.
Talking with the punchOdia claimed that the demand was absurd and called on the authorities to intensify efforts to rescue the 31 hostages in the custody of the kidnappers.
He also said that Transport Minister Mu’azu Sambo and Nigeria Railway Corporation Director General Fidel Okhiria were in Igueben to assess the situation.
Odia said authorities promised to deploy helicopters on Tuesday to locate where the victims were in the bush.
He said: “I can tell you that the kidnappers have demanded N20m, for a total of N620m. This is absurd and I don’t know where poor people will be able to raise that amount of money from.”
Edo State Police spokesman Chidi Nwabuzor could not confirm the veracity of the claim.
However, Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Guidance Chris Nehikhare revealed that six victims had been rescued, adding that efforts were underway to rescue the remaining 26 victims.
The commissioner in a statement noted that Governor Godwin Obaseki had given instructions for the criminals to be arrested.
It added that two wanted kidnappers who were not related to the present case have been arrested and would also assist the police in their investigation.
The statement read: “Following Governor Godwin Obaseki’s directive that the hijackers who attacked the train in Igueben on Saturday be brought out of hiding and the abducted persons rescued, we are pleased to announce that six people have been rescued.
“The six people are: a 65-year-old man, a nursing mother and her baby, a six-year-old girl and two brothers; two and five years.
“We commend the efforts of the bush rescue team and their support staff who have been working tirelessly since the incident to ensure that the kidnapped passengers are rescued and reunited with their families.
“We are confident that the other victims will be rescued soon as the highly motivated security personnel are in high spirits and have stepped up their pursuit of the kidnappers.”
“As events in the bushes unfold, rest assured we will keep you informed and crave the support of all stakeholders, particularly the media, in sticking to the facts and avoiding sensationalist reports that could inflict more emotional pain to the families and friends of the victims who are already in danger. Operation Bush Combing continues,” Nehikhare added.
In addition, the NRC’s MD, in an interview with Channels TV on Monday, said the agency has won approval to purchase sophisticated security systems.
Asked if lessons were learned from the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, he said: “We learned a lot from the last attack.
we improve our security by increasing the number of personnel; vigilantes, army, police and some technology, but we are not there yet. “We have to keep improving and make sure we get the required result.
“At Itakpe-Warri, we have involved the local community to protect and also support the security architecture that we have in place.
“So I think we have improved but there is nothing that cannot be sabotaged with the will and determination of the saboteurs.”
Meanwhile, the Edo State Police Command said it has intensified its ongoing operations to rescue the abductees.
Command spokesman Nwabuzor revealed that the rescue operation was being carried out in a way that would not compromise the process.
He said: “I can only tell you that six people have been rescued so far. Police Commissioner Mohammed Dankwara has assured the citizens of Edo that efforts are underway to apprehend the kidnappers and rescue other victims.”
Asked if the gunmen had contacted the families of the victims, he said: “That goes into the other thing that I shouldn’t mention because the criminals are also monitoring what is being said about the situation.”
In a related development, the President of the Igueben Area Customary Court, Ms. Precious Aigbonoga, was abducted Monday morning in Ugoneki while on her way to the Igueben Local Government Area Court, Edo State.
Revealing this in a statement, Nigerian Bar Association publicity secretary Festus Usiobaifo said the NBA was working closely with the Edo State Police Command to rescue her.
The statement read: “The President of the Igueben Area Customary Court, Her Honor, Ms. Precious Aigbonoga, was abducted on Monday morning around the Ugoneki axis, when she was on her way to the court in the Igueben Local Government Area, Edo State.
Your Honor is the wife of our colleague, Mr. Afebu Aigbonoga, PDP candidate, Etsako West District 1. The President of the Lion Bar Association, Nosa Chief Francis Edo-Osagie, is deeply saddened by this news and condemns, in strong terms, the worrying callousness of these bandits in kidnapping Mrs. Precious Aigbonoga; a tolerant, friendly and hard-working judicial officer.”
“The NBA executive is in close contact with the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Dankwara. By the grace of Almighty God, his Lordship will be rescued unharmed, and the bandits brought to trial, Amen. Let us keep his Lordship in our prayers, please,” the statement added.
the punch had reported on Monday that the managing director and chief executive of the NRC said security agencies were on the trail of the hijackers who were believed to be armed herders.
He said: “The police, the vigilantes and the Army are all behind the people in the bush; this is all i can say. There are certain things we need to clarify before issuing a statement.”
The Force’s Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, also stated that efforts were underway to rescue the abductees.
“We will provide the necessary support to the Edo State Police Command and the Railway Police Command in rescuing the kidnapped victims; Efforts to rescue them and arrest the culprits are intensifying,” he assured.
When asked about the nature of the support given to the state command, Adejobi simply said: “Support is support. It’s a security matter,” and he declined to comment further.
There were reports that Police Inspector General Usman Baba had sent special police squads, including the Intelligence Response Team and the Anti-Terror Squad, to Edo state to rescue the victims.
The squads, it was deduced, would complement police efforts in the state.
A senior officer stated, “IG has deployed the IRT and the anti-terrorist squad to Edo from the Force headquarters. But security agencies should have taken preemptive measures by deploying armed agents around the stations.”