From next month, intending railway passengers in Nigeria will be required to have their National Identity Numbers (NIN).
In apparent response to the recent attacks on rail travellers, particularly the bombing of a Kaduna-Abuja passenger train on 28th March, many of whom remain in the terrorists’ captivity, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) said NIN would be needed to link the passengers’ profiles to enhance the safety and security of rail users.
NRC Managing Director, Mr Fidet Okhiria assured that ‘the Abuja-Kaduna Train Service (AKTS) will resume as soon as possible with additional security measures put in place’.
The NRC had suspended the Abuja-Kaduna route since 28th March.
Okhiria said the security agencies were working tirelessly to ensure the rescue and release of all abducted passengers.
He stressed that 362 passengers and 20 crew members were on board the train when it was attacked.
‘While we continue to sympathise with families of those who lost or have not seen their loved ones, we encourage anyone still looking for a loved one to please call us.
‘The numbers to call are: 08033546208, 08060044600 and 07066700150.
‘The corporation will continue to update the general public of latest developments’’’ he stated.
Okhiria added that the NRC had re-railed the last rolling stock affected in the attack.
‘This means that all the 14 de-railed rolling stock (11 coaches, two rescue coaches and one Locomotive engine on the Rescue Train) have all been re-railed from the incident site to our stations at Idu, Abuja and Rigasa, Kaduna.
‘Intensive track repair work continues at site. An advanced level of track repairs has been achieved and hopefully it will be rounded off in 10 days’,’ he explained.
Relatives of the abducted persons in the Abuja-Kaduna train attack have however warned the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and the NRC not to resume services on that route until their loved ones abducted by bandits are released.
They also lambasted Amaechi for declaring Presidential ambition a few days after the train attack which claimed more than eight lives and left 26 travellers injured, while scores were kidnapped.
According to them, it was most uncharitable that Amaechi, ‘under whose nose the attack occurred as a Minister’ to be celebrating rather than resigning.
In a statement, the Chairman of the Concerned Relatives of Abducted Persons, Dr Abdulfatai Jimoh said it was inhumane for the NRC to (prepare to) resume operations while the kidnapped victims were still languishing in the forest
The angry relatives threatened to disrupt train services on the Abuja-Kaduna route if the victims were not rescued before the resumption of train services.
Last Tuesday, the families issued a 72-hour ultimatum to ensure the release of their loved ones. Some of the family members claimed they had spoken to the bandits, who, according to them, did not make any specific demands.
Jimoh said: ‘It is true that we gave the Federal Government 72-hour ultimatum which expired yesterday (Thursday) midnight. We are grateful to God that before the expiration of the 72 hours, we heard from the Federal Government after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday through the Minister of Information that the government is already on top of the situation with what has happened.
‘We acknowledged it and we appreciate it. But what we want to add is that the government should speed up the process of discussion with them (bandits) so that they can come out to release our people soonest. This is our appeal now’.
Abdulmalik Attah, who said he had his 85-year-old mother and sister in the custody of the bandits, claimed he had been in frequent touch with the bandits.
‘I have spoken to the bandits. I was one of the first guys that spoke with them. I’ve spoken with them 11 times. And asides me, I don’t think anybody has done that.
‘They said they had their targets on that train, that it weren’t our parents and brothers and sisters that they aimed at, but that these were just necessary evil.
‘And what did they tell me? That the Governor (of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai) has been running his mouth; and that’s why they came to his doorstep. And that this is just the beginning; that they will go further than this’.