ABDUCTORS of passengers of the ill-fated Abuja Kaduna train successfully deceived the presidency into releasing the pregnant wife of their commander, a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, has said. Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity to the President, made the revelation on Friday while speaking with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa Service.
The revelation came a few hours after President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, met with the families of the freed abducted train passengers at the Aso Villa, Abuja.
The terrorists’ leader had demanded the release of his pregnant wife in exchange for the kidnapped passengers, but after the woman was released and even taken to the hospital for safe delivery, the terrorists refused to release the hostages.
Shehu said the commander of the terrorist group had requested the Federal Government to release his pregnant wife who was in its custody as part of the agreement to release the abducted passengers. However, according to the presidential spokesman, immediately the terrorists’ demand was met, they did not fulfill their promise, which was to release the hostages, and instead made some other outrageous demands.
Shehu said: “The commander of the terrorist group requested that the government should release his pregnant wife, which was done.
“The government even took her to the hospital for safe delivery and she delivered twins.
“The government went further to show him his wife and the twins so that he would believe and see that the mother and the babies were in good condition.
“We then handed over his family to his parents. Unfortunately, after all this, he failed to honour the agreement reached. We were deceived.”
BBC Hausa Service reported that this was not the first time the terrorists had failed to honour such agreements but it was the first time the Federal Government had come out to tell the world the demands of the terrorists.
During his meeting with the families of the abducted passengers, President Buhari had told them that he did not want to use force and put the lives of the abductees in jeopardy in securing their freedom. About 31 passengers are still in the custody of the terrorists.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed regret that the challenges of insurgency, banditry and kidnapping faced by the country have stretched the utilisation of security agencies and other resources.
Speaking at the launch of the National Crisis Management Doctrine (NCMD) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday, the president explained that due to the challenges, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) revised the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) which he endorsed in August 2016.
The newly launched management doctrine is aimed at bridging the gap created by extensive deployment of security services through fostering collaboration among ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The NCMD, which was developed by the ONSA, in coordination with relevant MDAs, would ensure greater successes in tackling national crises. The president commended the efforts of the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (retd), his staff and members of the working group from various responder MDAs for the remarkable work in developing the doctrine.
Buhari described the feat as a significant milestone in recognition of the need for collective efforts towards achieving coordinated, effective and efficient national crisis management.
A statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted him as saying: “This shows the renewed promise and commitment of this administration to managing crisis in the country.”
President Buhari urged the ONSA to continue to play its coordinating role among crisis response stakeholders to achieve greater successes. He also thanked the British government for its collaboration in the development of the doctrine as well as the United States government for its support, urging them to sustain the relationship.
The president recalled that at the inception of the administration, Nigeria was faced with multiple security challenges ranging from terrorism and kidnapping to armed banditry, ethnic militia attacks, oil theft, rape, gun running and various acts emanating from violent extremism.
He said: “The emergence of the Boko Haram terrorist group, as well as bandits and kidnappers in Nigeria, considerably changed the country’s security situation leaving panic in the minds of the populace.
“These and other security challenges confronting the nation tend to stretch the deployment of our security agencies, resources and national security apparatus.
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“Owing to the dynamics of these crises, the Office of the National Security Adviser revised the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) which I endorsed in August 2016.
“Within this strategy are certain works streams which include the Prepare and Implement strands that seek to mitigate the impact of terrorist attacks by building resilience and redundancies to ensure continuity of business; and a framework for the mobilisation of coordinated cross-government efforts respectively.
“I am glad that the Office of the National Security Adviser has not relented in its efforts to implement the NACTEST by coordinating relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to develop the National Crisis Management Doctrine.”
In his remarks, the NSA explained that work on the doctrine started in 2014 but was given impetus after the president endorsed the revised NACTEST, which has five work streams, namely, ‘Forestall’, ‘Secure’, ‘Identify’, ‘Prepare’ and ‘Implement’. Monguno said the NCMD, which is a subset of the NACTEST, fulfills the work streams to ‘Prepare’ and to ‘Implement.’
He said: “The doctrine provides a detailed methodology for national crises response, outlining how the various relevant MDAs should interact at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.
“It is to be noted that the NCMD can be used to manage both malicious threats and civil emergencies owing to the general principles set out within it.”