Thirty days after the abduction of the Abuja-Kaduna-bound train passengers, relatives and friends of the victims said they are still traumatized by the incident.
They noted that the government had yet to reach out to them one month after the incident, noting that life has not been the same without their loved ones.
In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, Dr. Abdulfatai Jimoh, leader of the families of the victims in Kaduna on Wednesday, said they were willing to discuss with the terrorists if that remains the only option to see their loved ones release unhurt.
According to the chairman, the government is yet to reach out to the families as to the extent they have gone for the release of the victims since the terrorists said they can only discuss with the government.
Jimoh said the families were in the dark and worried over the development, especially as the terrorists preferred to negotiate with the government.
He said, “The situation is still the same. There is no communication from them(bandits). The last time they called like I said was our relations that we spoke to. We have not spoken with them (bandits) at all.
“From what they (terrorists) said, it was the government they want to talk to so that’s why they have not called us. But assuming there is an option, we would have explored the option.
“They (terrorists) are not calling anybody and we can’t stretch them. It’s only the government that can talk to them.”
When further asked if they will jump on the option should the terrorists reach out to them for negotiation, he said: “we would because there is nothing that we can do. We don’t have the power to force them to release our relatives.
“If that’s the only thing they want, we will discuss it with them. We understand the government is discussing with them and we want to believe that the government is talking to them. We just want the whole process to come to an end successfully and quickly.
“Just like you asked if it’s an option to negotiate with the bandits, you know, for now, it’s not an option. I mean, talking with the bandits. We don’t have that option yet but of course, if there is an option and it’s the only option that we have, we will discuss it with them.
“For now, we don’t have that option because we can’t reach them and they can’t reach us. It’s not the preferred option. If it is the option they have that can solve our problem, fine.”
Jimoh appealed to the bandits to release their loved ones unhurt as they (abductees) were innocent of what transpired between them and the government
He added, “We plead with them to release our relatives because these are innocent people and they don’t know what the terrorists want from the government. We don’t even know what’s happening between them. So, we are pleading with them to release our relatives. That’s just what we can say.
“Our relatives are in captivity for 30 days today. So, you can imagine the condition they are in. They said it’s the government they want to talk to.”
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Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan Hits the Right Safety Button with LNSA
Since the inception of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s Administration in 2019, there is one thing he reiterated in his manifesto and has sworn to uphold under his THEMES agenda where he highlighted Security as one of the pillars of his administration. In a bid to ensure all Lagosians can go about their lawful activities without fear of the unknown, he saddled himself with the responsibility as the Chief Security Officer of the state to ensure he puts the necessary security apparatus in place to ensure the safety of lives and properties. Without a doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu delivered in every aspect as no stone was left unrolled. Taking the Security of lives and properties serious, he invested a heavy financial war chest in the acquisition of security gadgets for the Police, the Response Rapid Squad RRS and the Lagos State Neighborhood Agency LNSA headed by the indefatigable Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan.
Since the Administrative commencement of the Agency in 2017 during the Past government till this moment, Mr. Governor has ensured proper funding for the safety outfit investing Billions of Naira to equip it so it can give the necessary security support in the aspect of surveillance to the necessary agency for a swift collaboration and a positive synergy for a better Lagos. When Ifalade took over in 2021, He was like a fresh Gust of Summer wind who had a loft idea owning to his background as a seasoned technocrat having worked at the Law Enforcement Training Institute LETI and his experience working with a dredging company and also as a season legal luminary. On assumption of office, one thing he ensured was to bring a different feel to consolidate the effort of Governor Sanwo-Olu in ensuring the agency functions optimally to ensure it lives up to its expected expectation. He used his good relationship to ensure Mr. Governor increases his stake in the affairs of the agency. The transformation agenda started by re-orientating his officers on proper conduct, proper dress code and proper ethics among the citizenry. He introduced the use of Body cameras for his officers. He also ensured they often attend LETI for proper updating of knowledge in discharging their duties. In addition to that, he also ensured proper welfare packages for his staff by raising a motion for life insurance for officers who are injured in the cause of discharging their duties or eventually loss of life. This was infused as many commended his effort that to protect lives and properties, one must be fully motivated to give his all. Falade did not only stop at that with the help of Mr. Governor, He also ensured several visiting routines were taken to ensure the functionality of each Local government and a general meeting with the head of commands where they relay their concerns on pressing issues and the challenges. This gives room for positive and negative feedback which the agency acts upon to be above board at all times.
In his process of rebranding, he also requests the permission of Mr Governor to further recruit more hands to enable adequate manpower for the agency to function well. Currently, the Agency is recruiting over one thousand officers who will be commissioned into the agency before the end of the year. In a bid to also spread its tentacles through a public and private partnership with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP, the agency launched an anti-trafficking unit last year August in collaboration with NAPTIP on child and human trafficking among other vices. In a bid to rebrand, he has gotten the approval of Mr Governor to create several units in the agency that will also be supportive of intelligence gathering. The agency will create a research and documentation unit, Forensic unit, Situation Room, Water Ways surveillance, Drone deployment, Forest Monitor team and a host of others.
Over the week, at the Agency’s head office in Bolade, Oshodi, Falade and ensured the distribution of tactical materials like; caution tapes, Ropes, Scanners, Tasers, Shin and elbow guide, Generators, Riot Shield, LNSA Photo book and a host of items for administrative purposes and enforcement.
In his quest to show effectiveness in duty through proper monitoring, the agency under Falade’s watch also commissioned 16 zonal heads. The Zonal heads will monitor zonal local Government unit. He also handed out brand new patrol cars to the officers who emerged having gone through proper scrutiny, training and exams. The Zonal head will ensure the smooth running of their domain and ensure all unit functions optimally and report to the Agency’s head office. As part of the rebranding process, The Agency next month will commence the rebranding of all its offices across Lagos with full painting with the agency’s Blue and Yellow colour with visible signage to ensure uniformity. The agency will also commence building and furnishing of new offices for some units that run under a temporary office.
A close source disclosed that; all these giant strides and impeccable records would not have been possible if not for the full support and the quest for the protection of lives and property of the State Government under Governor Sanwo-Olu. In a quick conversation; Prince Ifalade averred that; “Mr Governor has been supportive in all ways. Our mode of operation now is different from what it used to be. Anytime we give Mr Governor a proposal on anything regarding security, he does not joke with it. In fact, he signed it with immediate alacrity. He has also told us to ensure that each time we have any request we should not hesitate to call his attention that he is ready to support us to the fullest so we can keep functioning at a higher capacity.”
“The Agency is not relenting despite some challenges we face. We will continue to intensify our effort to make Lagos a safe haven for all. We are also open to public and private partnerships. Every top individual and private firm in Lagos who wants to reach out through their Corporate Social Responsibility CSR, will also ease the burden on Government. Security is the responsibility of all sundry and should not be left to some selected people only. If all hands are on deck, Lagos will be a safer place”. He further concluded.
Sanwo-Olu, media chiefs for corporate governance workshop in Lagos
GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State will, on Thursday, declare open a two-day workshop on Good Corporate Governance in the Media, organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE.
The workshop, which would be attended by managing directors, publishers and editors of national media outlets, including print, broadcast and online, holds at the De Rembrandt Hotel, Alausa in Ikeja with the theme ‘Journalism and Digitalisation: The Imperative of Good Corporate Governance.’
In a statement by its President and General-Secretary, Messrs Mustapha Isah and Iyobosa Uwugiaren, the NGE said the workshop is aimed at exploring the impact of digitalisation on journalism, the media industry and prescribe practicable responses to its disruptions.
“Digitalisation has changed the face and the practice of journalism, eroding its space,” the NGE said, adding, “For the profession to thrive, it needs more efficient management models.”
It stated that a lecturer at the School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University Lagos, Dr. Pius Onobhayedo, will deliver the keynote address on the theme, while the former Managing Director of Guardian Press Limited, Mr Emeka Izeze, would speak on the sub-theme ‘Striking the Balance among Commercialism, Proprietary Right and Professionalism.’
The statement reads: “The former Managing Director, The Sun Publishing Limited, Dr. Tony Onyima, and the former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Punch, Mr Gbemiga Ogunleye, would deliver papers on ‘Surviving the Digital Onslaught,’ and ‘Journalism and the Law: Who Watches the Watchdog?’ respectively.
“The workshop, which is supported by the Lagos State Government, would attract 50 participants spread across Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Edo and Delta States.”
Soldier killed, two others injured as military repels Abuja attack
Facts emerged yesterday of how Nigeria’s military repelled the planned invasion of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, by terrorists.
In the foiled invasion, many of the attackers suffered fatalities. Unfortunately, one soldier was killed, while two others were injured.
Sources privy to the exchange informed Saturday Vanguard that the gunfight that ensued was like a war movie.
Read Also: Terrorists killed one soldier, injured 2 in Zuma Rock attack
The invasion, which, according to sources, was to be a hit-and-run, was planned with a view to setting a decoy, while attacking targets within the capital city and retreat.
However, acting on intelligence, the military was on full alert.
Unconfirmed reports said in some military barracks in Abuja, the bugle was blown, signifying the urgency for full military readiness.
In fact, deployment and reinforcements were sent to strategic targets within the capital city Thursday night.
Military sources confirmed that the alertness and readiness of the military saved what would have been a very serious security breach within the capital city.
The planned invasion is coming in the same week when the terrorists holding hostages from the Abuja/Kaduna train attack of March, 2022, threatened to abduct President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, and the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
The main theatre of Thursday’s gunfight was a checkpoint at Zuma Rock.
The area is the boundary between Niger State and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
The terrorists were said to have come on motorcycles, while others came in a Hilux van.
Troops of 102 battalion of the Presidential Guard’s Brigade, who are responsible for manning the check-point, were said to have put on a gallant response during the gun-fight leading to some of the terrorists sustaining gunshot wounds and fatalities, which also made them retreat and flee.
A reinforcement team was dispatched to the scene of the surprise attack on Thursday night with artillary weapons which further boosted troop’s response against the terrorists.
Those who heard gunshots and escaped being trapped in the gunfight were said to have made frantic calls to friends and office colleagues to stay indoors.
A source said authorities of Guards Brigade Nigerian Army have further deployed a reinforcement team from headquarters to beef up security within 102 Battalion barracks and FCT environs as the military is now taking the threat’s of terrorist’s attack more seriously.
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