An expectant mother and her husband, a couple and two sisters are among those being held by terrorists who attacked an Abuja-Kaduna train, it was learnt yesterday.
Aliyu Mahmud, a relative of the seven-month pregnant woman, was among the victims’ families who staged a peaceful protest at the Radio House in Abuja yesterday.
The protesters, who bore placards, spoke with reporters.
Terrorists on March 28 blew up rail tracks on the Abuja-Kaduna route, killing eight passengers.
No fewer than 41 people were injured. Many were abducted.
Of those abducted, Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) Alwan Ali-Hassan was freed on Wednesday.
The terrorists threatened to kill the other hostages if the government does not do “what we want”.
The families urged the Federal Government to double its efforts in rescuing their loved ones.
The Defence Headquarters yesterday assured Nigerians that it was working towards ending all forms of terrorism.
Mahmud said: “I have my sister who is seven months pregnant with her husband.
“Words cannot explain what they are going through and what we are going through.
“Please, the government should do the needful and let this come to an end as soon as possible.
“They should try as much as possible to reach out to the perpetrators and rescue our loved ones.
“There are children there, pregnant women, the sick, the aged and only God knows what they are going through.
“They have been in captivity for ten days, so you can only imagine what they are going through and how it is affecting g us.
“Whatever we do, we think of them. When we eat, we think of them. When we sleep, anything we do, we think of them.
“We are pleading with the government to please do the needful so that this situation will come to an end as soon as possible.”
Another protester, Aminu Uthman, said it had been some difficult ten days since his brother and wife were abducted.
“My immediate younger brother and his wife are amongst the victims.
“It is a nightmare and the most difficult ten days I have has in my life. I cannot sleep or eat. A lot of things are going wrong.
“The bandits called only once and they gave him the phone to speak to us. They are yet to make any request but they called and he is with them.
“We voted for this government because of insecurity. We had the trust that they would address insecurity.
“This protest is not for the family members alone, it is for Nigerians generally. This thing can happen to anybody,” he said.
Another relative, Hajia Idayat Yusuf, pleaded for the release of her two sisters.
She said: “It has been hell for me. My two sisters from the same parents were abducted.
“Some of those abducted have underlying ailments such as ulcers, diabetes, hypertension and there is no medication. We are really concerned.
“In the last ten days, it has been hell, we cannot sleep, and we cannot eat. We are fasting but we are fasting abnormally.
“We are really begging that the government should come to our rescue.
“Please, the government should come to the aid of those that are alive.
“We are sorry for those that have lost their lives. We sympathise with the families of those in the hospital but for those alive, at least, bring them back.
“We are appealing to the government to do something.”
Yusuf said the families had received assurances that the victims would be rescued.
“We were told that the government was making a serious effort to rescue them.
“They also assured us that no life was lost among those kidnapped and that we should keep praying for their release.
“But we do not know the efforts of the security agencies. That is why we are here for the government to tell us the position of things.
“They should sincerely tell us what is happening because our loved ones are there.”
Minister of State for Transportation, Ms. Gbemisola Saraki, said security agencies were working hard to free the victims.
Speaking at a ministerial briefing, she said: “The Ministry of Transportation is working with security agencies. It will be premature for us to say too much before the outcome of the exercise.
“I assure you that it is a comprehensive exercise and we implore each and all of us to exercise patience pending the outcome.
“We are very concerned about those kidnapped and we assure you that the security agencies are doing the best they can.
“Our hearts are with families of the deceased.”
Pastors protest, demand bombing of Kaduna forests
Also yesterday, some pastors in Kaduna took to the streets to protest the spate of terror attacks, kidnapping and killings in the state.
Like Governor Nasir El-Rufai, they demanded precision bombing of the forests used as hideouts by terrorists and kidnappers.
The pastors, under the aegis of Interfaith Alliance, terminated the protest at the popular Lagos Roundabout.
They said enough was not being done by security agencies to stem the rising security crises in the state.
They also appealed to the government to compensate all the victims of the attacks, award scholarships to their children and rebuild affected communities.
Convener of the Interfaith Alliance, Rev. Emmanuel Adebayo, said: “We believe that the government is doing their best but their best is not good enough.
“Obviously we are not satisfied with the way the government is going about insecurity at the federal level.
“The government needs to be more proactive. We have been hearing about the cry of our governor; he said he has been taking the reports to those concerned.
“He said they know where they (terrorists) are and that they listen to their telephone conversations but the responses from the security agencies are not good enough.
“What we expect is that the government should carry out precision attacks in the forests in order not to harm innocent people.
“We believe that the government can monitor their (terrorists) movements through intelligence and then carry out the bombing.”
DHQ to Nigerians: don’t despair
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has enjoined Nigerians not to be weighed down by the recent spate of attacks in some parts of the country.
It assured that the security agencies remained undaunted in the task of crushing the terrorists and other criminal elements..
Director Defence Media Operations Maj. Gen. Benard Onyeuko, stated these during his biweekly media parley with Defence reporters in Abuja.
He said: “The military high command wishes to use this opportunity to assure Nigerians on the determination of the Armed Forces, the Police and other security agencies to deal with all terrorists and other criminal elements in the Country. The events of the last few days should not bring despair to the populace.
“The Armed Forces is committed in its resolve to bring peace back to the country as we are stepping up our operations in all the theatres”.
Onyeuko also disclosed that as of April 5, 51, 114 terrorists and their family members, had surrendered to troops in the Northeast..
The Defence Operations spokesman added: “In the last two weeks, …troops took control of terrorist’s stronghold by Ukba/Camp Zairo in the Sambisa Forest where some artillery guns, Armored Personnel Carrier, trailers, and a large cache of arms and ammunition were captured.
“Also, own troops destroyed terrorist enclaves, captured some terrorists, destroyed terrorists improvised explosive making factory.
“Troops neutralised scores of terrorists arrested 22 terrorist spies and three logistics suppliers; rescued 30 civilians and of more significant was the surrender of a high-profile terrorist, Commander Sale Mustapha (Ibin Kathir).
Asked what the military was doing to prevent operational setbacks like the one in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State where 17 soldiers were killed, and the recent Abuja-Kaduna train attack, Onyeuko said that security agents were conducting a series of operations that have forced terrorists to flee.