Tasks Buhari on release of captives
BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
A member of the House of Representatives representing Ede North/Ede South/Egbedore/Ejigbo Constituency of Osun State, Bamidele Salam on Wednesday protested bare-footed in Abuja in solidarity with the victims of Abuja-Kaduna train kidnap who have been in the captivity of kidnappers since March this year.
According to the lawmaker, he engaged in the lone demonstration to solidarise with the abductees and other citizens in captivity of bandits and terrorists all over the country.
Salam, who carried a placard bearing pictures of some of the kidnap victims said in a post on his Facebook page on Wednesday that he walked from the Unity Fountain in Abuja to the National Assembly complex.
Dressed in black colour pair of trousers and shirt, Salam displayed placard bearing inscriptions such as “Muhammadu Buhari, please, do more to secure freedom for the Kaduna train abductees and other citizens in captivity.”
He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, to as a matter of urgency, expedite action in making sure those in the den of their captors are freed.
“I just concluded a bare-footed walk from the Unity Fountain in Abuja to the National Assembly complex in solidarity with Kaduna train kidnapped victims and other citizens in captivity of bandits and terrorists all over the country.
“I also addressed a Press Conference to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to do more to secure the freedom of these helpless citizens of Nigeria,” the post read.
His address at the press conference read in full: “As an individual I am worried by the turn of events in our dear nation. Our nation is becoming a jungle of sorts where criminals carve out turfs and operate freely without let or hindrance.
“One of the key dimensions of this criminality is the unholy practice of kidnapping for ransom, which according reports has spawned a billion naira industry in the last seven years or so. It is to our embarrassment as a nation that our wives, mothers, fathers, husbands get routinely kidnapped at will by bandits with many of them losing their lives even after the payment of ransom by their families or communities.
“Statistics of kidnapping in the country chill the bones. A report by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) shows that from 2018 there has been a steady increase in the number of kidnap victims. The figure rose from 987 victims in 2018 to 1,395 in 2019. In 2021 the figure rose to 2,865 in 2020 and 5,287 in 2021. Of the 2021 figure, more than 2000 were children and young people according to a UN study.
“This year alone, several hundred Nigerians have been kidnapped the most harrowing being the attack on a train along the Abuja-Kaduna rail line in Kaduna State on March 28, this year where 168 people were reported kidnapped and eight persons killed including a young doctor due to travel out of the country the very week of the incident. The kidnapped victims of that attack remain in captivity till this moment.
“It is not clear how long they will be in captivity. Whether they will remain there like the remnant of the Chibok girls kidnapped in 2014, Leah Sharibu who has been in captivity since February 19, 2018, the Bthel Baptist High School Students held for 10 months and 23 days, the pupils of the Islamiyya School in Katsina in captivity for nine months and 28 days, and the of the FGC Birni Yauri in Kebbi State who spent 11 months and nine days with terrorists, remains to be seen. What is clear is that kidnapping is a clear and present danger to our nation with needless loss of lives with its attendant effect on the national psyche.
“A report by Dataphyte reveals that in January this year 915 of the 1486 victims of kidnapping or insecurity, 915 lost their lives.
We clearly cannot continue along this route. The kidnappings and deaths resulting therefrom are a stain on our national conscience.
“The Kaduna train kidnap incident itself is a blight not only the efficiency of our security system but a slap on the face of government whose responsibility it is to secure life and property. That such an attack could happen in broad daylight without our security operatives being capable of fending off the bandits, speaks to a defect in our security system.
This defect reflects badly on government.
“No government can aspire to legitimacy and relevance if it fails the basic test of ensuring the safety and well-being of the people who elected it into office.
“We are at that point today when the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari must rise to its full height and exercise leadership. It is trite to remark that the unfettered activities of bandits, terrorists and other criminals has created the impression in the minds of many Nigerians and even foreigners that the Nigerian state is tottering on the brink of collapse.
“This impression is re-enforced by the ease with which these criminal elements even take on security operatives. We recall that in August 2021, bandits attacked Nigeria’s elite military institution, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) killing two officers and abducting another senior officer.
“That attack and many others elsewhere have belittled our security agencies and have caused Nigerians to lose faith in the ability of their government to protect their inalienable rights to life and property.
“President Buhari must rekindle that confidence and a good place to start would be to work assiduously to secure the release of the kidnapped Kaduna train victims. Reports and video footages emanating from their abductors are not encouraging. The lives of the hostages hang in the balance as the Federal Government seemingly at its wits end, prevaricates on such sensitive matter of national importance.
“I know that Mr. President is a very good Muslim and the Prophet Muhammed, Peace be Upon Him said leaders are shepherds and that the Almighty Allah will ask about each of the sheep in our care.
“Our Vice President is a good Christian and so he has a lot to learn from how David handled a similar situation in 1st Samuel Chapter 30.
What needs to be done to secure the release of the Kaduna train victims must be done. Too many precious Nigerian lives have been lost to kidnappers and other malevolent individuals to permit these hapless victims of the train hijack to become the latest statistics of a nefarious enterprise that has sullied the national image.
“I call on my colleagues in the National Assembly and Nigerians at large to join me in urging President Buhari to do all that is within his power as the Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces to free these victims and many others languishing in captivity.”