The House of Representatives has called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to ensure timely release of the passengers of the Abuja-Kaduna train abducted by terrorists.
The chamber specifically urged him to “expedite action to secure the release of the remaining 51 Nigerians kidnapped in the Abuja-Kaduna train attack and all other Nigerians held hostage by bandits and terrorists across the country.”
In addition, the parliament urged the Federal Government to set up a high-powered inter-agency panel to coordinate efforts and ensure the release of abductees across the country, as well as assist their families.
Furthermore, the lawmakers mandated the House Committees on Army, National Security and Intelligence to ensure compliance with the resolutions.
The resolutions were based on the unanimous adoption of a motion titled, ‘Need to secure the Release of the Kidnapped Abuja- Kaduna Train Passengers and other Nigerians Held Captives in the Country.’
Messrs Bamidele Salam, Julius Ihonvbere, Aminu Goro, Nnolim Nnaji, Shehu Kakale, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, Benjamin Mzondu, Jaha Ahmed, Mansur Manu-Soro, Abubakar Yabo and Kingsley Uju jointly sponsored the motion.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosed that the leadership of the House met with families of the victims earlier on Wednesday, describing how badly he felt when he say the trauma the relatives are going through.
Gbajabiamila said, “As a House, we need to come together and put pressure on our security agencies to get the victims out. Eleven people have been freed so far and there are still over 50 in captivity. The families, friends and relatives that we met yesterday, quite honestly, one cannot but feel their pains.
“I commend Honourable Bamidele (Salam) for his work and efforts so far in this regard. And I think as a House we should come together and do whatever we can as an institution to encourage the agencies, who are doing their best but who still need to do more to get these people out.”
Moving the motion, Salam cited Section 14(2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which states that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, while Section 17 (2) (b) further states that the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity maintained and enhanced.
The lawmaker noted that in the last 10 years, terrorism, banditry, kidnappings and other forms of violent crimes have become “a security epidemic” in different parts of the country.
“The House is worried that over 70 per cent of the kidnapped victims are mostly children, women and elderly persons who were violently attacked and captured by criminals in the course of discharging their daily activities on the farms, villages, roads, worship centres and other places;
“The House is alarmed that a large number of the kidnapped citizens have remained in captivity for years, months and days without any form of help to either release them or provide social, medical or economic support to their grieving family members from the Government,” he said.
Salam listed some of the unresolved cases of kidnappings to include the remnant of 2014 kidnapped Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu in February 2018, the Islamiyya school students kidnapped in Niger State on May 30, 2021; the Bethel Baptist High School Kaduna students kidnapped on July 5, 2021; and the students of Federal Government College Birnin Yauri kidnapped on October 21, 2021.
According to him, there have been over 100 cases of kidnappings and abduction of Nigerians in 2022, the most disturbing being the case of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack of March 28, 2022.
Salam said, “The House is dismayed that during the train attack, 168 Nigerians were reportedly kidnapped with eight persons killed, including a young doctor due to travel out of the country the week the incident occurred.
“The House is concerned that the abductors of the train attack recently released pictures and video footages of 62 victims held hostage in terrible, physical and emotional conditions, with a threat to kill them if their demands were not met by the Federal Government;
“The House is also dismayed that the hostages include children aged two, five, seven and nine years; men with bullet wounds, a victim with an amputated leg, diabetic patients, while others are citizens with various health challenges as well as nursing mothers.”
The lawmaker noted that the stories told by 11 of the hostages recently released by the kidnappers depicted the “increasingly deteriorating condition of the remaining hostages, who are getting malnourished, emotionally distressed and psychologically traumatised for over 70 days in the forest.”
He said, “The House is concerned that if nothing urgent is done to secure the freedom of victims in captivity across the country, citizens will lose confidence in government which may embolden criminals and groups to step up acts of criminality and thus endanger the stability of the nation.”