President Muhammadu Buhari has told the families of those kidnapped by robbers on the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna train trip on March 28 that efforts to ensure their safe return are ongoing.
On Monday in Abuja, the president provided the promise while hosting inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) who paid him Sallah respect.
He urged security services and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to provide specific information to victims’ relatives on a regular basis, stating the government would investigate all options to ensure their safe return.
“As we rejoice with friends and family members on this special occasion, we are acutely aware that many families in our country are experiencing fear and uncertainty.
“This is due to the large number of prisoners held by terrorists against their will, including those kidnapped in the horrific train attack between Abuja and Kaduna.
“I have asked security agencies to ensure the safe and prompt recovery of all kidnapping victims.”
“I urge the Railway administration to set up a situation room as soon as possible to coordinate the rescue mission and engage with the detainees’ relatives on a minute-by-minute basis.”
“As we press the military to assure their safe return to their families, this should alleviate their suffering and anxiety.” My goal is to see that all individuals held in captivity are liberated safely.
“Let me assure Nigerians that the bandits are simply trying their luck, but it will only be for a short time before they are crushed.”
“They’re using civilians as human shields,” he said, adding that it’s difficult to confront them directly.
Bandits and terrorists, unlike professional military, do not follow the rules of engagement and may injure hostages if attacked, according to the president.
“They don’t care if their hostages are killed if they are attacked. It’s a sensitive situation that necessitates caution, patience, and discernment.
“Any rescue mission that ends with the death of a hostage cannot be considered a success.”
“The government does not desire such a sad ending.” It’s a complicated situation that needs to be handled correctly.
“Any rescue operation’s primary goal is to free the hostages securely, undamaged, and alive.
“Let me be clear, though, that combating terrorists and outlaws necessitates more than just guns; we also require human intelligence to thwart terrorists’ intentions.”
“The public and community leaders should assist our security officials with information concerning criminal groups’ activities or movements,” Buhari said.
The president urged Nigerians to make communities hostile to criminals hiding in them, warning that “sheltering criminals from exposure jeopardizes your own security and the security of your own community.”
“No criminal can thrive in an environment where he is vulnerable to public exposure.”
A closer collaboration between security agencies and communities, he believes, will make a significant impact in the fight against banditry and terrorism.
President Buhari assuaged fears that bandits would become another major threat, similar to the Boko Haram threat, by promising that the administration would not allow this to happen.
“This administration has committed significant resources to boosting the capacity of our security forces by providing timely equipment and increasing staff welfare in order to increase morale.
“In terms of security, Abuja has seen a significant improvement.
“In the past, terrorists made living a normal life nearly impossible. The capital city had been surrounded by road barricades, and residents had to pray in fear of terrorist assaults.
“There was no site in the FCT that was safe from terrorists.” Even the United Nations building and the Police Headquarters aren’t safe.
“This is no longer the case today.
“We have substantially damaged and crippled the Boko Haram terrorists’ capabilities to the point where they can no longer grab and hold any Nigerian area without being rejected by our valiant troops,” he said.
“Of course, we can’t say that the terrorists have been completely eliminated, but we have eliminated their ability to conquer our land.”
“This progress in terms of significantly weakening the opponent is required in order to finally destroy them.”
“The rate at which terrorists are surrendering their weapons and surrendering to our troops is a big and positive development,” he told his guests.
The president praised Mohammed Bello, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, for “diligently ensuring the capital city remains safe and attractive.”
He also congratulated inhabitants of the FCT for coming to the Presidential Villa.
“It gives me great joy to greet you all at the Presidential Villa.” People pay homage to the president at ceremonies marking the Sallah holidays, as is customary.
“These types of visits are important to me because they allow me to communicate directly with the people or their representatives.”
“I applaud residents of the FCT for living in peace and harmony for years since the capital was formally established,” the president said.
President Buhari remarked that the wellbeing of the people of Abuja, as well as the welfare of all Nigerians, would remain a top priority for the administration.
“Our top goal is the physical development of Abuja and the provision of infrastructure.”
“Since the inception of this administration, we have prioritized the completion of abandoned and ongoing projects.
“In order for Abuja to attract investors as its population grows at an exponential rate, infrastructure must be provided.
“A federal capital should live up to its name, and it won’t be able to do so unless it has the infrastructure in place to support and speed development.”
“Abuja has grown beyond the wildest dreams of its planners.
“This expansion is fraught with difficulties. The Federal Capital Territory government, led by Minister Mohammed Bello, has been doing an excellent job in transforming Abuja into a modern city,” he continued.
According to him, one of the significant projects undertaken by his administration for residents is the construction of the Abuja Light Rail, as infrastructure development is critical to economic growth.
He stated that the administration would continue to focus on internal and arterial highways to neighboring states, as well as energy.
“The wellbeing of the people is our first priority.”
“This government will now complete the Second Niger Bridge, which has been dragging on for years,” Buhari said.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was also present, thanked the president for holding the homage on behalf of all the invited guests.
He recalled that the last time such a gathering was feasible was prior to the COVID-19 epidemic in 2019.
“We thank God Almighty for restoring this opportunity to us.” It also teaches us that Almighty God owns everything and everyone.
“I believe that even COVID-19 has a silver lining; here we are with so many people who are able to come; if this event had been hosted at your mansion, Mr President, it would not have attracted such a large crowd.”
“This is an excellent occasion to thank God for keeping our nation together and united in the face of hardships that are not unique to our country.”
“I want to thank Almighty God, Mr President, for providing you with all you’ve needed and for giving you the strength to face and overcome these problems.”
“I pray to the Almighty God to assist you and our government in addressing each of these difficulties when they arise,” Osinbajo stated.
Mohammed Bello, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, thanked God and the president for the opportunity to pay the traditional Sallah devotion in the White House.
He further mentioned that the last time folks paid homage was on June 4, 2019, during Eid al-Fitr.
“I also want to thank you for graciously agreeing to let us come in with such a large group of people representing a wide range of the FCT community.”
“Visitors here include religious leaders of various denominations, Muslims and Christians, community leaders, the judiciary, members of the National Assembly representing the FCT, and other stakeholders,” Bello explained.