On Thursday, President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.) pledged that the military will continue to use all available non-combative ways to free the remaining 31 victims of the March 28 train attack.
Buhari emphasized that getting everyone released “safe and unhurt” is his top priority.
The President made this declaration when he met with representatives of the families of the kidnapped people in Abuja, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
The Federal Government is doing everything in its power to ensure the safe repatriation of the remaining detainees, the President reassured the delegates.
However, he clarified that in order to release the other captives, the government will not use deadly force.
He said, “I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers, and our determination is to work towards returning these 31 people to their families.
“It is understandable that emotions typically run high, we have received several suggestions about the deployment of lethal military force in extracting those still being held in captivity.
“This option has indeed been considered and evaluated. However, the condition to guarantee a successful outcome and minimise potential collateral damage could not be assured and therefore that course of action had to be reluctantly discarded.
“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt.”
The President expressed satisfaction about his recent directive to security and law enforcement organizations to stop the barbaric conduct against innocent Nigerians, stating, “Judging by the available reports to me and news that have begun emerging in the last few days, I will say they have heard this instruction and are responding appropriately.”
He insisted that fight must be taken to the terrorists and that “each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand.”
The Minister of Transportation, Jaji Sambo, described the audience with the President as proof of the efforts by the regime to secure the release of all captives, and a sign that “government is not resting on its oars.”
The PUNCH has learned that some families have already begun to liquidate their possessions in order to pay the ransom demanded by the militants.
The attackers demanded N100m in ransom from each of the 61 train passengers they were holding captive.
Ibrahim Ahmed, whose sister is still detained, claimed in an interview with The PUNCH that the relatives of those still held captive were having trouble raising the N100m ransom.
Ahmed stated: “We are begging them (terrorists) to temper justice with mercy and consider those of us whose loved ones are still with them.
“In my family, we have sold all we had, yet we have been unable to raise N10m. We are hovering around N4.5m as I speak to you. We really want my sister out of captivity but we can’t help the situation. This is not just about us alone. There are others who are even worse off.”
For security reasons, another family member who wanted to remain anonymous said they planned to meet with Gumi to work on their appeal to the terrorists to lower the ransom.