Abuja-Kaduna Train Attacked By Gunmen Hours After Lai Mohammed Boasted Nigerians Now Travel Safely By Train.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, on Monday boasted of the performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in the area of infrastructure.
He made special mention of the effort of the Buhari government to connect Nigeria by train, boasting that Nigerians can now travel safely by train.
When Alhaji Lai made this statement, little did he know that an event that would happen hours later.
Lai Mohammed’s Boastful Statement
Alhaji Lai, while speaking at a media briefing in Abuja on Monday, said the federal government has done well on ensuring safety via rail transport.
“We are proud that in our time, Nigerians are once again able to travel by rail, this time in total comfort and safety,” he said.
“Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe-Ajaokuta and Abuja Metroline are shining examples of our rail revolution. And we are just getting started. We have the rehabilitation of the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project that cuts through Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Gombe, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states, and the Bonny Deep Sea and Railway Industrial Park.
“We have the Kano-Maradi standard gauge line that passes through some economic hubs of the country, including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina and up to the border town of Jibiya and the city of Maradi in Niger Republic.”
Speaking further at the media briefing, the minister said the country is becoming safer with the successes being recorded in the fight against insurgency and banditry.
“I am proud of our security forces, our men and women in uniform. Despite a myriad of security challenges, they are living up to the billing. The recent string of successes recorded in the fight against Boko Haram and ISWAP is uplifting,” he said.
“As the terrorists and their camps are being decimated, thousand of terrorists and their families are surrendering in droves. The effectiveness of the security forces has been enhanced by the leadership provided by President Buhari and the unwavering commitment of the armed forces and its leadership.
“The procurement of modern platforms for the armed forces has also gone a long way in raising the level of their operational readiness and efficiency, in addition to boosting their capabilities.”
The Attack That Exposed Alhaji Lai’s Statement As A Lie
On Monday, gunmen attacked a Kaduna bound train in Kateri-Rijana area of Kaduna. The train was traveling from Abuja when it was attacked.
The attack comes hours after Alhaji Lai said in his media briefing that Nigerians now travel safely by train.
The train was said to have been a few minutes away from the Kaduna station when the incident occurred.
The attack has since been confirmed by Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna commissioner for internal security and home affairs, in a statement.
According to him, several passengers sustained injuries, while security operatives are currently conducting “rescue efforts”.
“Security agencies have reported to the Kaduna State Government that the military has secured the Kaduna bound train from Abuja trapped by terrorists,” the statement reads.
“The Kaduna State Government received multiple reports of an attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train service at around Kateri-Rijana general areas.
“Relevant action agencies were urgently contacted, and robust deployments of personnel were swiftly made to the area to secure the passengers on board.
“Efforts are ongoing to convey the passengers from the location and others that sustained injuries have been rushed to hospitals for urgent medical attention.”
He added that the Kaduna government will work with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to get a list of all passengers that were on the train in order to ensure that all persons are accounted for.
“The Government of Kaduna State will be liaising with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to ascertain the list from the passengers’ manifest for efficient tracking. This is to acquire an accurate inventory of all passengers and their actual status,” the statement reads.
“Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i who has been in constant touch with the security forces, commended them for their prompt response, and thanked them for successfully securing the train and passengers on board.
“Security forces continue to comb the general area in additional rescue efforts. Emerging developments will be communicated to the public.”
It is important to note that Alhaji Lai’s comment was not only proven wrong by the attack that happened on Monday, there have been past incidences that show his comment is not true and may well be a deliberate attempt to mislead Nigerians.
In October 2021, gunmen carried out an attack on a Kaduna-Abuja train. Also, earlier in March, a Lagos-Ibadan train stopped mid-way after reportedly running out of diesel.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, had on November 21, 2021, cancelled its service on the rail line after an attack on the train.
Following yesterday’s incident, the NRC posted a message on its booking website yesterday, saying it was suspending the service for the safety of travellers.
The corporation said it was working to restore the service, and would inform the public when the train starts running again.
Effects Of Monday’s Attack
According to reports, the attack successfully immobilised the over 1,100-capacity train. The train was said to be carrying about 970 passengers at the time of the attack.
Sources say the terrorists planted explosives on the rail tracks and bombed the train just before Rijana, a community along the rail line in Kaduna notorious for kidnapping and other security breaches.
A source said the train, which left Abuja at about 6:10pm, was intercepted before Rijana, and that after the bomb was detonated, about 50 terrorists came out from the surrounding bushes and surrounded the train.
It was also gathered that the train almost somersaulted after the attack but came to a halt before the terrorists came out from the bush and started shoot sporadically, trying to gain entrance.
The source also said the train was about 16 coaches, with seven regular coaches carrying about 88 passengers on each coach, eight VIP coaches carrying about 56 passengers each and one executive (VVIP) coach.
One of the passengers who confirmed the incident said the attackers had surrounded the train and were shooting sporadically.
“All the passengers are currently lying on the floor of the train. The bandits are shooting sporadically. We are in serious danger,” said one of the panic-stricken passengers.
Confirming the incident, the managing director of Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC) Fidet Okhiria, said, “We cannot give you much information now. Most of the passengers have gone into hiding and they cannot be giving information, but there are reports of gunshots, continuous gunfire as the train stopped.”
A swift intervention by officials of the Department of State Services, DSS, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Nigerian Military last night saved the lives of the passengers.
A passenger, Zainab Musa, said via telephone that the attack was a rude shock to them.
“Currently, we are all lying down flat and security forces have started converging to drive the terrorists away, ” she said, adding that none of the passengers was harmed.
Also, one Anas Iron Danmusa, a passenger, said the explosives planted by the terrorists ruined the engine of their train.
“As of 8pm, we were just lying on the seats of the train praying. The gunmen were shooting sporadically around the Katari -Rijana train route,” Danmusa said.
“All the passengers are currently lying on the floor of the train. The terrorists are shooting sporadically. We are in serious danger,” another passenger said.
Meanwhile, agitated family members and friends of passengers stormed the Rigasa train station over the fate of their loved ones affected by the terrorist attack but the situation was brought under control.
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