BY Bolanle Olabimtan
Family members of passengers abducted during the recent attack on an Abuja-Kaduna train say the kidnappers have refused to negotiate with them.
Several passengers were killed, some injured and many abducted when gunmen attacked the train on March 28.
On April 11, families of the abductees had given the federal government a 72-hour ultimatum to secure the release of their relatives.
Speaking on Thursday at a briefing involving officials of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Abuja, Aliyu Mahmood, spokesperson for the families, said further attempts to reach the kidnappers have proved abortive because the attackers insist on talking to the government only.
Urging the government to intervene, Mahmood, who wept while addressing journalists, said some of the victims have gunshot wounds that require urgent medical attention.
He listed the victims to include a two-year-old and an 85-year-old woman.
Idayat Yusuf, a family member of one of the victims, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent steps to ensure the safe rescue of the abductees.
“I’m appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to please look beyond being the president of this country; look at this issue like a father, like a son, like a husband to the victims. We can’t just imagine a situation like this,” she said in tears.
“We are appealing to the president and all necessary authorities. The only crime of the victims is that they boarded a train. Please, they should come to our rescue. We are also appealing to the kidnappers to come out and negotiate with the families. We are ready. This is 17 days, but they are not even talking to us. We are pleading with the government.
“One of them is a woman who is seven months pregnant and has been given appointment for caesarean section. Is she going to remain there? Look at the aged woman with diabetes with no medication. Look at the man shot in the leg with no treatment. Look at it from the humanitarian angle.
“Please, we are begging Mr President. Please come to the rescue of the family members; come to the rescue of the citizens; come to the rescue of your children, your sons, your wives. Please, Mr. President, do something.”
On his part, Tony Ojukwu, the commission’s executive secretary, said the NHRC has been closely monitoring the events.
The executive secretary, who was represented by Halilu Adamu, deputy director, civil and political rights department, assured the victims that the commission will liaise with relevant authorities to ensure that necessary action is taken and the victims return safely.