- Attack despicable, barbaric, says FG
By Anthony Nwachukwu
One of the intending passengers kidnapped by suspected herdsmen over the weekend at the Tom Ikimi train station at Igueben, Edo State, has escaped the abductors’ grip, while one of the suspected abductors has been arrested, the state government said.
In an update on the incident, the Edo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Chidi Nwabuzor, disclosed in Benin on Sunday that the Deputy Governor, Comrade Phillips Shaibu, was at the Igueben Train Station to assess the rescue efforts, and announced that one of the suspected kidnappers has been arrested.
Also, the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, stated: “At the moment, security personnel made up of the military and police, as well as men of the vigilante network and hunters are intensifying search and rescue operations in reasonable radius to rescue the kidnap victims,” he said.
“As at 3pm Sunday, one suspect has been captured and is helping police with their investigation. One victim out of the 32 people kidnapped escaped from the hands of the abductors. We are confident that the other victims will be rescued in the coming hours.”
Reacting to the development earlier, the Federal Government condemned as “despicable and utterly barbaric” the current passenger kidnap less than a month after it resumed train services on the Abuja-Kaduna corridor following a fatal attack and passenger kidnap earlier in 2022.
In a statement Sunday by the Director, Press & Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Henshaw Ogubike, it further reassured the public that the security agencies were “making efforts to rescue the kidnapped passengers.
“The Nigerian Police is on the trail of the criminals and have mobilised with a view to protecting the lives and property of the remaining passengers. The government is saddened by this unpleasant development and assures on its prompt response to the ugly situation.”
The police spokesman, Nwabuzor, had disclosed on Saturday that some suspected herdsmen armed with AK-47 rifles invaded the Tom Ikimi Train Station at Igueben in Edo State, during which some passengers sustained bullet wounds.
A statement to the press partly read: “On January 7, 2023, at about 1600hrs, an unspecified number of herdsmen armed with AK-47 riffles attacked the train station at Igueben, Edo State and kidnapped an unspecified number of passengers who were waiting to board the train to Warri.
“The kidnappers who shot sporadically into the air before kidnapping some passengers left some persons with bullet wounds.
“The Area Commander Irrua, DPO Igueben Division, and men have visited the scene of the crime with members of the Edo State Security Network, local vigilantes, and hunters with a view to protecting the lives and property of the remaining passengers.
“Bush combing operations have commenced in order to rescue the victims and arrest the fleeing kidnappers. Further developments will be communicated.”