From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Kaduna State government has declared 16 bags and other items unclaimed by victims of the Abuja-Kaduna bound train which was attacked by terrorists exactly a year ago.
Also unclaimed at the time of this report were assorted loose belongings, including prayer mats, books and clothing items belonging to the victims.
The Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, in a statement, yesterday, said the state government will continue to maintain detailed records of all items collected, including the contact details of victims or their representative.
“Exactly one year ago, on March 28, 2022, a horrendous attack was launched by terrorists on the Kaduna-bound train from Abuja. The terrorists derailed the train at around 7pm by setting off an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) to blow up a section of the track. They then opened fire on the coaches and kidnapped scores of passengers from the train.
“In the heat of the confusion, a terrified passenger finally alerted the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs on the exact location of the train, which was traced to the Kasarami-Audujongom general area of Chikun LGA.
“Immediately, Major General KI Mukhtar, the then GOC 1 Division and Brigadier General UT Upuene, then Garrison Commander moved with their brave troops to secure the train and rescue the remaining passengers.
“Subsequent developments confirmed that nine passengers were killed in the attack, with over 60 kidnapped and more than 20 injured. Passengers injured were successfully evacuated by the troops, staff of Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency and other humanitarian volunteers, along with the remains of the slain passengers.
“After the search and rescue, troops carefully secured passengers’ luggage and, thereafter, handed them over to the Kaduna State Government on March 31, 2022. Also supplied was a detailed inventory of over 100 items of luggage and several loose belongings carefully labelled. Records confirmed that nine victims had already collected their belongings directly from the 1 Division Headquarters.
“Consequently, the Kaduna State Government can now report that between April 3 and November 17, 2022, 62 people (victims of the attack or their relatives) came forward to claim 94 items of luggage containing a range of personal items.
Other loose belongings identified and retrieved from the Kaduna State Government by their owners include certificates, documents, passports, car and house keys, cash, ATM cards, mobile phones, tablets, laptops and their accessories, books, perfumes, as well as clothing and jewellery items.
“As of the time of this update, 16 bags remain unclaimed, along with an assortment of loose belongings, including prayer mats, books and clothing items. The Kaduna State Government will continue to maintain detailed records of all items collected, including the contact details of victims or their representatives.
“One year on, the Kaduna State Government again offers its heartfelt commiserations to all victims of the tragedy, and their families. The efforts of all security agencies in responding to the attack to secure the lives of many passengers are recognised and deeply appreciated. The window is still open for the collection of the remaining items at the ministry.
“The government appreciates the 1 Division, Nigerian Army for the brave efforts of its officers and men, and diligent collaboration with the Kaduna State government following the attack. The government similarly appreciates the 453 Base Services Group (Nigerian Air Force), the Department of State Services, the Kaduna State Police Command, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and the Kaduna State Vigilance Service. Gratitude also goes to the Borno State government for valuable collaboration towards solutions to common problems.
“The government pays special recognition to Major-General TA Lagbaja, the GOC 1 Division, Nigerian Army, who also doubles as the Force Commander, Operation Whirl Punch, as well as the officers and men of both land and air components; the Commander, 453 Base Services Group, Air Commodore AA Adedoyin; the Commandant, Nigerian Navy School of Armament Technology Kachia, Commodore ME Ejumabone; the Director of the Department of State Services, Abdul Enenche; the Commander, 402 Special Forces Brigade, Brigadier General EU Effiong and his Commanding Officers; the Commander, Sector 7 Operation Safe Haven, Brigadier General TM Opurum; the Commissioner of Police, Yekini Ayoku, the state Commandant, NSCDC, CC Idris Adah, and all other heads of security agencies engaged in the battle against terrorism. Gratitude also goes to the vast network of intelligence sources.
“The government thanks doctors, health workers, support staff and civil society groups that have helped provide aid to people injured in the attack, and psycho-social support in its aftermath. Close and improved collaboration will be sustained with all security agencies for prompt response and effective counter-terrorism efforts in the state.
“Finally, the military and other security agencies have done and achieved a lot in the campaign against terrorism in the state since this unfortunate incident. Some of these inroads will be highlighted in the 2022 Annual Security Report and the First Quarter Report for 2023, soon to be presented to the public. As this administration winds up, it will continue to support and partner with security agencies and critical stakeholders towards security and safety of the citizenry,” the statement said.