The 67 passengers abducted by terrorists on March 28 after the bombing of a Kaduna-bound train habe spent 48 days in the hands of the terrorists, with families and Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, pleading with Nigeria’s federal government to meet the demands of the terrorists so as to secure freedom for their loved ones.
The terrorists had two week ago freed Sadik, the son of elder statesman and Northern Elders Forum (NEF) convener, Professor Ango Abdullahi, thus reducing the number of captives to 67.
A relative of one of the abductees, who also speaks on behalf of the affected families in Kaduna State, Dr. Abdulfatai Jimoh, told THISDAY Friday night that their plea remained that the federal government should strike a deal with the terrorists, so that their loved ones can be freed.
Popular Islamic cleric, Gumi, who spoke during a prayer session organised by Jama’iyyar Matan Arewa for the kidnapped passengers on Thursday, also challenged the federal government to meet the demands of the abductors and secure freedom for the abductees.
Dr. Jimoh told THISDAY that the traumatised families, for the first time, met with some government officials last week and reiterated that the demands of the captors must be met so that their loved ones can regain freedom.
He said: “We are sick, tired and frustrated by not having our loved ones for almost 50 days now. There are women, children and the elderly in the forest with these kidnappers. How do you want us to sleep? We can’t sleep. Government has to help us. Government must meet the demands of the terrorists.”
The affected families at a press briefing in Kaduna last Monday asked the terrorists to fear God and release them, lamenting that life had been tough without their breadwinners.
Jimoh, who spoke at the press briefing, expressed disappointment with the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and the management of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), for alleged insensitivity towards the plight of the victims.
The relations also expressed disappointment that they sought the intervention of the leadership of the National Assembly, “which is the people’s Court, but nothing had been forthcoming from them.”
Also, children of the victims at the press conference by the relations, appealed to the government to do everything possible to ensure the release of their parents.
One of the children, Ismail Abubakar, 11, said life had been tough without his father, saying, “I am appealing to them to release my father and others safely. They should set them free. Life has been tough without my father since he was kidnapped.”
Similarly, 18 year old Ruqqayatu Jibril, whose parents are in captivity, pleaded with the terrorists to free their victims.
“I have my parents in captivity. This is their 42nd day in captivity and still counting. We are appealing to the government to bring back our loved ones. We have missed them so much. Some of them are breadwinners of the family. We really need them back. We, the family, are waiting in anguish,” she said.
While noting that living without them has been traumatic, she said, “It is so terrifying. We are appealing to the government to do their best possible to rescue our beloved ones unhurt. We are appealing to the bandits to please free our loved ones. They are also humans. We are humans like you. Even if you don’t share anything in religion, then, you share in humanity.
“Why should you just capture fellow citizens? You are also citizens of this blessed country. But why should you be capturing people that are your brothers and sisters and keeping them in captivity for almost six weeks. Please and please, fear God and free them.”
Gumi at Prayer Session
The prayer session, which attracted religious leaders from both the Muslim and Christian faiths, was held at the JMA headquarters in Kaduna.
Gumi, who led the Muslim prayer, assured the families of the kidnapped passengers that the prayers would make the captives feel divine presence as God would comfort them.
He urged government to meet the terrorists’ demands so that the victims, who had spent over 40 days in their den, can regain their freedom.
He said, “Whatever they (the terrorists) want, give it to them so that they can release these people and when they release them then, you are at the liberty, to deal with them the way they deserve because when they have captives, you have to tread with caution so that their captives will not be injured.”