The Federal Government has condemned the kidnap of 30 train passengers by gunmen allegedly called Fulani terrorists at Tom Ikimi Train station, Igueben in Edo State.
In a press statement issued by the spokesperson of the ministry, Henshaw Ogubike, the Minister of Transportation, Engr. Muazu Sambo described the incident as ‘despicable and utterly barbaric’while reassuring the public that the security agencies are making efforts to rescue the kidnapped train passengers.
According to Sambo, “the Nigerian Police is on the trail of the criminals and have mobilized with a view to protecting the lives and property of the remaining passengers. The Government is saddened by this unpleasant development and assures on its prompt response to the ugly
Over thirty passengers and staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) are believed to have been victims of late Saturday’s kidnap by gunmen at the Tom Ikimi train sub-station in Igueben, Edo State.
The Liaison officer to the local government area, Best Oseh said security agencies and paramilitary organisations are combing the forests in the area to get clues.
He said “As I speak, people are in the field all over the place, vigilantes, security agencies and other people, everybody is concerned but we have to be careful with what we divulge so that we won’t jeopardize the processes we are doing.
“As for the category of people kidnapped, some of them are from Igueben while others are passengers from other places and as for the number, for now, we are looking at over 30 but we can only give a comprehensive number when preliminary investigations are concluded.”
A resident, Odia Benson said the abductors released two kids who were with them while a woman reportedly escaped.
He said some staff of the NRC including the station manager and ticket clerk were among those abducted.
According to him, “The train normally arrives by 5 pm so as at about 20 minutes to 5, bandits just came through the bush part and invaded the place, they took away the station manager, took away the booking clerk and about 29 other passengers made up of males and females.
“As I speak with you, the Deputy Governor left the place about an hour ago, the Commissioner of Police and his men are here, the 4 Brigade Nigerian Army Commander is here, the Director of the Department of State Services (DSS) is here and many paramilitary representatives: the DPO Igueben and his men. The Esan Akatakpa Security network, the hunters association have been in the forest since last night doing bush combing. We are hoping that by the end of today, they will be rescued.
“The railway station is in the forest, there is no security, no police, no vigilante and they are at the mercy of God. The station is in Igeueben town, just about 1.2 km away from Igueben General Hospital.
“I think about only three of the victims are from Igueben; one of them is from Ward 8, we had another who is married to an Igueben man but based in Warri while others are from Ekpoma, from Uromi, Ubiaja, some are not even from Edo State
“The kidnappers released two children, it is believed that they felt the children will slow down their movements. They dropped them at an abandoned petrol station, they called the family of the mother of the children that they should go and pick up the children from the place they dropped them off. One woman also escaped with her little baby. The woman escaped and found herself in Opoji which is in the Esan Central local government area”.
Spokesperson for Edo State Police Command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said in a statement that the abductors, armed with AK 47, invaded the train station and shot sporadically into the air before abducting scores of intending travellers into the bush.
The police statement read, “This is to inform the gentlemen of the press that on January 7, 2023, at about 1600hrs, an unspecified number of herdsmen armed with AK-47 riffles attacked the train station at Igueben, Edo State and kidnapped an unspecified number of passengers who were waiting to board the train to Warri.-
“The kidnappers who shot sporadically into the air before kidnapping some passengers left some persons with bullet wounds. The Area Commander Irrua, DPO Igueben Division, and men have visited the scene of the crime with members of the Edo State Security Network, local vigilantes, and hunters with a view to protecting the lives and property of the remaining passengers.