The kidnappers of no less than 31 railway passengers who were taken from the Tom Ikimi Train Station in Igueben, Edo State, on Saturday are being sought by soldiers, police officers, and vigilantes.
The station manager, Godwin Okpe, the station’s head of security, Ikhayere, and 29 passengers are among the casualties.
The incident occurred 10 months after bandits assaulted the rail service between Abuja and Kaduna, killing 14 people and kidnapping 65 more. After being held captive for months and paying ransoms, they were freed.
Fidel Okhiria, the managing director and chief executive of the Nigeria Railway Corporation, told The Newsmen on Sunday that security forces were looking for the kidnappers, who were thought to be armed herders.
He said, “The police, vigilante and Army are all after the people in the bush; that’s all I can say. There are certain things that we need to clear before we issue a statement.”
The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, also affirmed that efforts were ongoing to rescue the abductees.
“We will give necessary support to Edo State Police command and Railway Police Command on the rescue of the abducted victims; efforts are being intensified to rescue them and arrest the culprits,’’ he assured.
When asked about the nature of support being given to the state command, Adejobi simply stated, ‘’Support is support. It’s a security matter’’ and declined further comment.
According The punch report , the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had dispatched police special squads, including the Intelligence Response Team and Anti-Terrorism Squad to Edo State to rescue the victims.
The squads, it was gathered, would complement the efforts of the police in the state.
A senior officer stated, ‘’The IG has deployed the IRT and the anti-terrorism squad to Edo from Force headquarters. But the security agencies should have taken pre-emptive measures by deploying armed agents around the stations.
“There are communities around the area who can also give information to the security agencies. Though the area is forested, it is not that thick.
‘’They (security agencies) should liaise with the community and vigilantes for information on the kidnappers. There was a time I complained about that station when I was going to Warri. It is a bit lonely and isolated; it is not by the roadside. I don’t know why they didn’t take note of that fact. I saw a few policemen but they were not enough.
‘’They should have posted at least 10 policemen to guard that station. I know they have closed the terminal at Ayangba road; they are using the one at Itakpe. They should have taken note of the incident that led to the shutdown of the terminal at Ajaokuta.’’
News media gathered that two children aged between two and five, whose parents were believed to have been abducted, were in the custody of the Police Headquarters in Agbor, Delta State.
Most of the victims, it was learnt, were from the South-South and South-East.
Attempts to reach the state police spokesman, Chidi Nwabuzor, for confirmation that the kids were in police custody failed because neither calls to his cell phone nor an SMS sent to him were answered.
According to this article, the Itakpe-Warri train is the only option for travelers heading to the South East and South.
The train service is frequently used by travelers heading to Benin, Warri, Agbor, Asaba, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, and Aba.