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Edo train attack : Retired police officer, nursing mother, others rescued

A retired police officer, a nursing mother and her baby, as well as two minors, have been rescued from among the 32 passengers abducted from Igueben train station.

The victims were waiting to board a train to Warri in Delta State when they were abducted Saturday, in Igueben Local Government Area of Edo State afternoon by gunmen.

Daily Trust gathered that the victims were rescued by a combined team of security agents including the local vigilante and hunters. It was also learnt that one of the kidnappers had been arrested by security operatives.

“Five persons have been rescued so far. The kidnappers were forced to release the minors who they felt couldn’t move fast due to the intensity of the security operatives, especially the hunters who were in the bush,” a source disclosed.

The spokesperson of the Edo State Police Command, SP Chidi Nwanbuzor, who also confirmed the rescue of the victims, said it was made possible in collaboration with other security agencies.

“Among the rescued victims by the security operatives were a retired police officer, a lady with a one-year-old child, a boy and a girl of three and six years old respectively but the whereabouts of their parents is yet unknown,” he said.

He added that the police with other security agencies, the Edo state Security Network, vigilantes and hunters are still combing the bush to rescue the victim unhurt and further arrest the perpetrators.

However, a resident who pleaded anonymity faulted the claims that some victims were rescued, noting that it was the abductors that released them.

“We heard that the abductors dropped the children at a filling station and called their relatives to pick them up. How can you call that rescue? It is shameful that the security operatives were not alive to their responsibilities before the attack, especially after the Abuja-Kaduna train attack. This area is too deserted with no security measure in place but now, all the top brass of security formations in the state are at the station as if that will bring back the victims,” he queried.

How station manager, passengers were abducted

Daily Trust gathered that the area where the incident took place is one of the flashpoints for criminal activities in the state.

It was learnt that the abducted victims included the station manager, ticket clerk and other staff of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) as well as passengers waiting to board the train at 5pm.

The abductors, it was gathered, struck about 20 minutes before the time when the train was expected to pick up passengers and depart the station.

“This place (the train station) is in a bush. It is the station that has opened up the area. The abductors emerged from the bush, shooting sporadically before abducting their victims. There was no resistance because there is no security presence in the area. They took their time to march out their victims,” noted a resident of the area, Abilo Jeremiah.

Kidnapper arrested

Meanwhile, Edo State Commissioner for Communications and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, said that security operatives had arrested one of the suspected kidnappers.

“After 32 persons were kidnapped, the police, vigilante, and local hunters swung into action, combing the bushes around the vicinity. One of the kidnapped victims was able to escape.

“The Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, has visited the scene of the attack for on-the-spot assessment and was told that one of the suspects was arrested and he has been helping the police with the investigation to arrest other fleeing members of the kidnapping gang,” he said during a press briefing in Benin, the state capital.

The attack came about nine months after bandits attacked an Abuja-Kaduna train, gunned down some passengers and abducted more than 60 others, who were released after ransom payment.

The attack led to the suspension of train service on the route.

Service only resumed on December 5 after the remaining passengers were released.

Train service won’t be disrupted – NRC

Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, has said the attack will not affect the Itapkpe-Warri train service.

He told our correspondent on the phone that the train service would continue but that additional security measures would be introduced.

Okhiria also clarified that there was no attack on the train but only the station was attacked.

One of our correspondents learnt that the Minister of Transportation, Mua’zu Sambo, had visited the affected train station in the early hours of Sunday.

A statement later issued by the Director, Press and Public Relations of the ministry, Henshaw Ogubike, said the federal government was making efforts to free the passengers.

“The public is hereby reassured that the security agencies are making efforts to rescue the kidnapped train passengers. The Nigerian Police are on the trail of the criminals and have mobilised with a view to protecting the lives and property of the remaining passengers,” the statement read.

Daily Trust

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