President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, has said people should stop blaming the administration and alleging it did nothing to free passengers kidnapped on the Kaduna-bound train as it met all conditions of the kidnappers who allegedly reneged on the agreement to free the hostages.
Responding to questions in an interview with BBC Hausa service yesterday, Shehu said the problem was that the deal did not yield the expected result as the terrorists failed to keep to the agreement after the government had kept its own part of the bargain.
Going into details, Shehu narrated all the conditions it met to ensure that the victims were released alive while the kidnappers kept shifting the goalpost and finally made monetary demands.
He said: “Don’t forget that right from the start of it, the leader of the terrorists demanded that his pregnant wife should be released from captivity.
“The federal government took the woman to the hospital where she gave birth to twins, and after she gave birth, he was shown that both his wife and children were in a good health condition and then they were handed over to his parents.
“After handing them over, they came up with a different issue that there are about six or seven of their children in Yola, Adamawa, who the government sent a plane to pick up.
“We expected that if we gave them the children, they would release all the victims in their custody. Then, they demanded money.“So, people should not say the government is doing nothing.”
The government had been railed at by many people who felt it was insensitive for the government not to have freed the hostages who were kidnapped by their attackers on March 28, 2022 after the rail track was blown up with explosive and passengers kidnapped.
He insisted that it was wrong and untrue that the government left the victims to their fate, pointing out that as a responsible government, it took positive and practical steps in demonstration of the value it placed on Nigerian lives to free them but unfortunately, the kidnappers reneged in the understanding.
“The important thing is that the government, since the occurrence of the incident, has been working very hard. Some are visible, while some are not. “It is to the advantage of the relatives and to the country at large to see all the victims are rescued.“Whoever says the government isn’t doing anything or isn’t making any effort to rescue them perhaps doesn’t know the effort the government is putting in order to rescue the abductees,” said Shehu.
Families and relatives of the victims have severally protested pressing for the government to take action towards freeing their loved ones even as President Muhammadu Buhari met with the relatives of the victims in Abuja, where he assured that efforts were on to ensure the safe rescue of the 31 persons still in captivity.
By Fatima Abubakar.