A member of the House of Representatives, representing Ede South/Ede North/Egbedore/Ejigbo federal constituency of Osun State, Hon. Bamidele Salam, on Wednesday, staged a one-man protest on the street of Abuja, to demand the immediate rescue of kidnapped Kaduna train passengers and other Nigerians in captivity.
Salam, who trekked bare-footed from Unity Fountain to National Assembly complex, held a placard with the inscription, “President Muhammadu Buhari, do more to secure freedom for Kaduna train abductees and other citizens in capacity.”
The placard also had the picture of the kidnapped train passengers.
While speaking with journalists on his concern, Salam said, “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.”
According to the lawmaker, it was an embarrassment as a nation that 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.
Salam, who reeled out statistics of kidnapping in the country, also cited report by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) which 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,” he added.
He added that the government must take responsibility as he said no government could claim legitimacy and relevance when it fails to secure the lives and property of the citizens.
“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 blightnot 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 under the leader of President Muhammadu Buhari must rise to it 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.”