Buhari orders army to pursue militants who killed 8, grabbed dozens

The Abuja-Kaduna train

The Abuja-Kaduna train that was attacked by terrorists on March 28, 2022. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the military to deal ruthlessly with bandits.

Photo credit: Courtesy | Nigeria Railway Corporation


Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the military to deal ruthlessly with bandits even as the exact number of those killed, injured and abducted in a gun attack on a train in northwest Kaduna state late on Monday was yet to be determined.

President Buhari’s order came just as the Kaduna state government Tuesday night obtained the passenger manifest and a report that eight bodies had been recovered, 41 injured and several others abducted.

Kaduna officials confirmed receiving the manifest from the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) for the Abuja-Kaduna train service AK9, which was attacked by terrorists late Tuesday.

According to the manifest, 398 passengers bought tickets for the trip, but 362 were validated as having boarded the train through the recognised turnstile.

The passenger manifest did not include NRC staff and security officials who were on board, said Mr Samuel Aruwan, the Kaduna commissioner for internal security and home affairs.

Security surveillance

President Buhari has also directed that security surveillance and monitoring for the Abuja-Kaduna railway line be implemented and that this be extended to the Lagos-Ibadan line.

The president, who held an emergency meeting with all security chiefs, directed the law enforcement chiefs to bring back all passengers kidnapped and ensure that each of the “callous terrorists is hunted down and made to face justice for their heinous acts”.

President Buhari described the bombing as a “matter of grave concern”.

"No one should be allowed to hold the country to ransom. Like most Nigerians, I am deeply pained by its occurrence, the second of its type, which has resulted in the deaths of a yet to be determined number of passengers and others who suffered injuries,” he said.

Callous attack

“The attack on the train, a safe means of transport to many, is callous, and our thoughts are with the families of the deceased and prayers for the injured."

Reacting to the incident, Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi said the attack on the Kaduna-bound train could have been averted if a security surveillance system had been in place.

“I am devastated and I honestly don’t know what to tell Nigerians anymore. The process of procuring the integrated security surveillance and monitoring solution has been tedious. If the processes were shortened, we would have saved lives,” Mr Amaechi said.

He joined some security chiefs to inspect the scene of the attack.

He said the ministry did not have enough cameras inside the train, adding that a high-tech camera that could detect objects from afar was necessary.

"The cameras in the train cannot pick what is happening outside. What you need is a camera that shows 100 metres away from the train, that there are unknown persons carrying guns,” he said.

"We are thinking about the possibility of employing natives until we get that equipment. Beyond drones, we need helicopters.”

He stated that the NRC may suspend the evening train but noted that stopping it was not a solution but providing appropriate technology that would ensure security.

Shot in the stomach

Ms Fatima Shuaibu, a student, said her sister, Zainab, was shot in the stomach and died.

She explained that as the train was approaching Kaduna, they suddenly heard a loud explosion, forcing the train to go off the tracks.

The security personnel on the train ordered everyone to lie down on the floor, she said.

She said that the terrorists came in (buses) and motorcycles, and that those who were abducted were taken away in the buses.

“I was seated by the window in the train. Suddenly, I started seeing a torch light. It was around 8pm. Then there was a loud bang as if something exploded. Suddenly the train went off track. As soon as the train stopped, we started hearing gunshots,” she said.

“The security personnel on the train announced that everybody should lie down on the floor of the train. My sister (Zainab Awal) was shot in the stomach and she died.”

She said that the terrorists attacked the VIP coach, abducted some people and took them to the bush. They shot other people during the two-hour ordeal before soldiers and the Air Force arrived.

“The terrorists were boys of between 18 and 20 years old. I saw them, they didn’t look like Nigerians,” said Abudul Hamid, another victim.