By Anthony Nwachukwu
The Federal Government has appealed to victim’s families and the general public for calm after a yet-to-be-ascertained number of intending train travellers were abducted by suspected herdsmen in Edo State on gun point.
Consequently, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has shut the Ekehen Train Station till further notice. A brief statement Sunday informed “our general public and especially our esteemed passengers that Ekehen Station has been temporarily closed due to security issues, till further notice.”
Though the victims’ whereabouts remain unknown since the incident took place, the Federal Government assured that efforts were on to rescue them. The attack, which was confirmed by the Edo State Police Command Saturday evening, took place at about 4pm Saturday.
It 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 Edo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Chidi Nwabuzor, had on Saturday disclosed 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.
They eventually abducted an unspecified number of intending travellers, whom they herded into the bush.
The statement 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.”