Igueben train station kidnap: Obaseki visits 12 rescued victims, hails crack operations team

14 Jan 2023

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Caption: L-R: Commander, 4 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Danlami Ndahi; Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; Edo State Commissioner of Police, Muhammed Dankwara, and Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Miller Dantawaye, after visiting rescued Igueben train station kidnap victims, who are recuperating at the Police Cottage Hospital, in Benin City, on Sunday, January 15, 2023.

… calls for investigation of NRC over negligence

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has visited 12 rescued kidnapped victims, who were abducted from the Igueben Train Station in Edo State, assuring that the government will leave no stone unturned in securing the release of the two remaining hostages.

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The governor visited the rescued victims at the Police Cottage Hospital in GRA, Benin City, where they had been taken for tests and rehabilitation after the rescue operation.

The governor hailed the crack team made up of various security agencies in the state, including hunters and members of the Edo State Security Network. 

He noted that their gallantry and tactfulness proved instrumental to the success recorded.

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While 12 of the victims were rescued by the crack team, there are still two hostages being held by the abductors. However, the Police arrested some of the abductors during the operation, who are now being questioned and assisting the security team to trail their colleagues.

Obaseki called on relevant authorities to investigate the negligence of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) which led to the kidnap attack at the Igueben train station in Igueben Local Government Area.

According to him, “How will the corporation deploy just one policeman to guard the Igueben train station after recording a kidnap incident in Kaduna. 

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“I must express our disappointment at the management of the Nigerian Railway Corporation because after the Kaduna incident, you would expect that they would have secured their facilities better. Six men came into their facility to kidnap people. This is something that has to be investigated.

“It doesn't speak well of their preparedness to run an effective and efficient railway system in Nigeria and doesn't give confidence to Nigerians that they will be safe using that mode of transportation. You can’t tell me that in a facility like the Igueben train station, you have just one policeman with one raffle guarding that facility especially after what happened in Kaduna.

“I believe that the corporation knows what it's doing and should be investigated and ensure such incidents should not happen to any Nigerian again.”

The governor said information indicted some traditional rulers in the area who have disobeyed government directives against open grazing as they still harbour herders in their communities. 

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 “We have information that some traditional rulers in that area do not obey and respect government decision to discourage open grazing by herders in their forests.

“I have instructed that those traditional rulers should be investigated and anyone found to be harbouring the herders will have questions to answer because that was what led to this incident. Communities that obeyed don’t have such incidents in their domain.

Asked if ransom was paid to secure the release of the victims, Obaseki said "No money was paid for their release as our special forces engaged in the joint operation and overpowered the kidnappers and rescued 12 persons and the kidnappers ran away with two victims.

“We are happy as a state and people that we have been able to secure the release of those kidnapped at the Igueben train Station over a week ago. It has been a very difficult situation as the might, will and security system we put in place in Edo State has been tested. We are glad the system is resilient.

“In the last one week, we were able to track the kidnappers and curtailed them to certain areas ensuring they aren't able to leave there. With the intelligence system at our disposal and the technological support we have in place, we were able to track these criminals. With the training of our special forces, we were able to rescue and release 12 out of the 14 hostages.

Obaseki commended the security operatives involved in the joint rescue operation, adding, “We thank our security forces for the sleepless night and efforts put in place to rescue persons kidnapped. We appreciate our security forces for this achievement as we have something to rejoice about especially as we celebrate our armed forces.

On his part, the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Muhammed Dankwara, said the kidnappers operated at the Ugboha and Udo forests where special security forces laid ambush for them for over a week at the forest.

He noted that as the kidnappers were trying to move their victims around that location, they were intercepted and were only able to escape with two other victims. 

He added: “We are working to ensure those two are released. We have arrested some persons who are a syndicate of this kidnapping gang. They are in our custody. Initially we rescued 10, with this 12 rescued we have just two left with the kidnappers. We assure Edo people that we will rescue them.”

One of the rescued victims, Mr. Christian Iyere commended the Edo State Government and all the security agencies that collaborated to rescue them.

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Another victim identified as Aguele Betrice said the rescue operation was timely as it has saved their lives and freed their families and loved ones from trauma.