–How security operatives colluded with terrorists.
-Why Tukur Muma was arrested.
-Alleged terrorism sponsors, including 2 ex-governors from Northeast and Southeast, uncovered.
-Security agencies to begin their arrests soon
March 28, this year, will remain evergreen in the memory of most Nigerians. It was the day over 100 passengers on an Abuja/Kaduna-bound train were kidnapped.
Bandits had attacked the train at about 8 O’clock in the night on that fateful day after blowing off some of the rail tracks. The attack led to the killing of about eight persons with several others injured, and over 100 abducted.
As the news of the attack went viral on the social media, the terrorists who carried out the operation claimed responsibility, requesting that their members held captive by the government be released in exchange for the hostages.
And barely 24 hours after the attack, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, visited the scene of the attack alongside the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi; Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya; Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali; officials of the Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC), among other top government functionaries.
Indeed, Nigerians and the entire world rose to condemn the attack, wondering how an operation of that magnitude could be successfully executed without enough intelligence gathering by the security agencies. And former Minister Amaechi told journalists after his visit to the scene that the attack would have been averted if the surveillance equipment, he proposed to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) were installed.
Amaechi, who said he had proposed to the FEC to procure the equipment to forestall attacks on the rail infrastructure, disclosed that his request was turned down by his colleagues.
As the days went by, the terrorists began to release the hostages in batches with the the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, as the first hostage to be released. Others subsequently followed in batches of three, four, five and seven with staggering sums running into billions of naira paid in cash to the terrorists as ransom by their relatives.
In some cases, the relatives of the victims had to sell landed property and other valuables to raise the ransom required. While all these were happening Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, visited the terrorists in their hideouts and pleaded with the government to facilitate their request in order to save the lives of the hostages.
The visit by the controversial Islamic teacher did not go down well with the government and the security agencies who commenced a discreet investigation on his involvement with the terrorists.
Not too long after the Sheikh Gumi episode, Tukur Mamu, a media assistant to Gumi, and publisher of Desert Herald, suddenly assumed the position of a negotiator between the government and the terrorists to secure the release of the remaining hostages.
Again, his assumption as the self-acclaimed negotiator angered the security agencies as it was gathered that Mamu did not only have unhindered access to the terrorists and their families, but also personally took the monies paid as ransom to the terrorists in cash both in local and foreign currencies. With the roles played by Gumi and Mamu, the security agencies believed that the duo may be collaborators and masterminds of the train attack and kidnap of the passengers.
But the victims remained in captivity until October 5, when the presidential committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari announced the safe release of all the remaining 23 hostages unharmed. News of their release was made known by the seven-man presidential committee of the Chief of Defense Staff Action Committee (CDSAC) through a statement signed by Prof Usman Yusuf.
The statement reads: “I am pleased to announce to the nation and the world that at 1600Hrs, (4: 00p.m) today, wednesday 5-10-2022, the seven-man presidential committee assembled by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General L. E. O. Irabor, secured the release and took custody of all the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on 28-3-2022.
“The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian military under the leadership of the CDS who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish. All sister security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this operation.
“The unwavering support of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, is what made it all possible. Members of this committee are grateful for the rare honour and privilege to be part of this humanitarian operation.”
TUKUR MAMU’S ARREST
Before the arrest of Tukur Mamu, it was gathered that the Nigerian Armed Forces working in conjunction with the Department of State Services (DSS) and the security agencies placed surveillance around him over his (Mamu’s) successful negotiations that led to the release of about 20 hostages.
Part of the investigations the security agencies were looking out for included who appointed Mamu as negotiator, how payment for ransom by relatives of the captives were paid, who takes the monies to the terrorists, how much gets to the terrorists from the total sum paid by their relatives? Sunday Sun also gathered that the investigators concentrated on how he facilitated the payment of ransom and the people who collected it from him.
A top security officer who does not want to be mentioned in print told Sunday Sun that “everybody in this country and outside this country knows that we have been battling with terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and what have you and we are not folding our hands as security agencies on these happenings.
“A situation where one person suddenly appears and begins to act as negotiator to free abducted hostages, if you ask me, is very suspicious. And what right thinking persons should start asking themselves, is Tukur Mamu the only Nigerian capable of handling this job?
“They should also be asking, who made him or appointed him as negotiator, or is it because he is a media practitioner and his colleagues in the media don’t see anything bad about it? We are also looking at how did he know the terrorists and why is it that he is the only one who knows them out of the over 200 million Nigerians?
“Is he one of the terrorists, who and how does the monies paid as ransom by relatives of the hostages get to the terrorists and how much gets to the terrorists compared to what their family members have been telling the public they paid to get their relatives released?”
Another source who also does not want to be mentioned too in print, said that monies running into billions of naira have been paid to bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and other criminals was beginning to give the government and the citizens a lot of concern.
According to the source, “more worrisome is the fact that these criminals are no longer using the banks and other financial institutions to carry out their transactions for fear of being tracked. So, you see, they have resorted to getting raw cash and using certain persons to carry out their plans. If we don’t do anything now, then things will get worse before the 2023 general elections.
“If we fold our hands and do nothing, what is happening in other climes will be child’s play. What Nigerians should be asking at this point in time is that why should Tukur Mamu be believed, and another person cannot be believed?
“So, we will carry out our investigations and get to the bottom of this, and if Mamu is found innocent, he would be set free. But so far, I can tell you that we have made some breakthrough with the arrest of some persons and recoveries of valuable evidence to aid in our prosecution.” It is believed that the abductors of the Kaduna-Abuja train victims collected well over N1 billion as ransom.
Sources told Sunday Sun that monies exchanged hands before the last 23 hostages were released, but top intelligence officers, who spoke to Sunday Sun, could not confirm this. Rather, they hinted that the military and other security agencies played a great role to set the remaining hostages free.
It was also gathered that several of the bandits were arrested during a raid on their camp located along the Abuja/Kaduna highway and some parts of Niger State. The source, however, said that he could not give an accurate figure of the number of terrorists arrested, saying the reason was so as not to jeopardize ongoing investigations
The source further revealed that as investigations continue, the security agencies have placed surveillance on Sheikh Gumi, an ex-governor of one of the Northeast states and a former governor of one of the Southeast states.
It was gathered that intelligence has revealed that these persons have continued to play a great role for terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes that are making life unbearable in the country.
Indeed, the Director General of the DSS, Bichi, had during a ceremony organized to mark his four years in office by personnel of the agency vowed to cage all terrorists sponsors before the 2023 general elections.
At the ceremony held at the service headquarters in Abuja, the DG, who spoke on the daunting security challenges in the country promised to cage all those responsible for the wicked act and bring them to their knees no matter their status in the society. He called on members of staff of the agency to up their game to ensure peace is restored in the country in the shortest possible time
The DG, while listing terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes as some of the insecurity bedeviling the nation, said that the service would no longer fold its arms to watch those perpetrating these evils to move about and carry on with their deadly activities.
He said the DSS, whose shoulder the military, police, the various security agencies and indeed the general public rely on for intelligence, is working round the clock to rid all criminals and their sponsors out of the way before the 2023 general elections.
Bichi said that the agency was more than ever well equipped with state-of-the-art technological equipment and manpower, who have undergone various trainings within and outside the country, to render the services which it was established for.
He said in the coming days, weeks and months, Nigerians would get to know those who have been championing the insecurity in the country, using religion and other dubious means as cover to perpetrate their evil acts to the detriment of innocent and law-abiding citizens. He said these set of people would not be allowed to escape as they are been monitored for 24 hours.
ALLEGED CONNIVANCE BY SECURITY AGENCIES
But while all these investigations are ongoing, there have been allegations and counter-allegations over the involvement & connivance of some unscrupulous members of the Armed Forces, the police and security agencies in aiding the activities of these criminals.
It was gathered that the authorities in the military and security agencies have confirmed that there are some saboteurs in its ranks, adding that some of them have been arrested just as they have made useful confession to the investigating officers handling their matters. Specifically, it was gathered that some unscrupulous personnel of the security agencies were involved in the payment of ransom, as well as providing security to the negotiators without the knowledge of their superiors.
It was also gathered that several operations to rout the bandits and free the hostages were leaked before the operations, thus giving the criminals the opportunity to either relocate to safe places or lay ambush for the security forces on their trail.
Thus, the rescue of the kidnapped train passengers was said to have claimed the lives of some personnel of the security agencies as a result of these acts by some disloyal personnel.
A source who does not want to be mentioned in print also said that while the authorities in the military and other security agencies were working hard to restore peace in the country, some others were busy jeopardizing such efforts.
According to the source, the situation is so bad that one can read their nefarious activities from their body languages. The source said: “People are no longer bothered about integrity because of money. All they are after is money, money, money at the risk of slaughtering their colleagues.
“And what do they do with the money? Buy houses, buy plots of land, cars and all of that forgetting that innocent people are being killed, leaving behind their wives, children, parents, brothers and sisters to suffer.”
So far, the source said that a good number of these unscrupulous personnel in the military and the security agencies have been arrested and undergoing interrogation.The revelations made by them are said to have implicated some very high personalities who would be arrested any moment from now.
The source while noting that their aim of causing tension in the country was to forestall the electioneering process next year. The source said that “Nigerians would be shocked by the time we start to pick these people up and make their identities public
“The reason they are doing these is to disrupt a smooth election next year. Before now, they succeeded in painting the military black as being incapable of tackling the security challenges in the country before the presidency and even penetrated the Armed Forces, causing bad blood amongst personnel.
“But I can assure you that all that is now a thing of the past because light cannot overshadow darkness. If you notice the Service Chiefs have been cautioning their troops to stay away from politics, because this is what they are using to lure personnel and give the military a bad name.
“As we speak, military operation in collaborations with the various security agencies is beginning to yield positive results that is also why the incessant cases of kidnapping, terrorists attack and banditry are reducing seriously.
“With the synergy between the military, police and the security agencies, we are winning the war because we have talked to our personnel not to allow these evil perpetrators to deceive us and make us discriminate amongst ourselves. It will no longer work.”
WHY RESCUE OPERATION TOOK LONG
It was gathered that few days after the train attack and kidnap of the passengers, the military set up a team to rescue the hostages alive. With a good number of Forward Operations Bases (FOB), established along the Abuja/Kaduna expressway to curb activities of criminals who hitherto attacked motorists and other road users plying the route, the military had a good advantage of hitting the criminals.
However, some strong forces were said to be using their connections with some powerful unscrupulous elements in the presidency to become stumbling blocks to the operations. It was gathered that some of the powerful terrorists sponsors did all in their powers to ensure that the terrorists had a field day even as they give false reports to the Presidency despite President Buhari’s order to the military to rescue the hostages unhurt.
Knowing that the military was making progress in the operations, the alleged terrorists sponsors were said to have embarked on propaganda to discredit the military. That not withstanding, the military went ahead with its operations discreetly so as not to attract the media because it was believed that the media were supporting Tukur Mamu, who happens to be a media practitioner.
DHQ REACTION ON RESCUE
At a media briefing held last Thursday on military operations conducted in the last two weeks, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) disclosed how the remaining 23 hostages of the Abuja/Kaduna train attack were released. It said the victims were rescued through non-kinetic operations by the Nigerian Armed Forces in conjunction with the security agencies in the country, on Wednesday.
The Director, Defence Media Operation(DMO), Major General Musa Danmadami, who made this known, however, refused to go into details on the operations that led to their rescue. Gen. Danmadami spoke at the biweekly media briefing on update of military operations conducted between September 22- October 6, 2022, while responding to questions from journalists on how the hostages regained their freedom.
The DMO spokesman said: “Wanting to know detail is not the issue for now. The important thing is that these people have been held captive for six months and the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in collaboration with other security agencies through the committee that was set up by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari secured their release.
“When it comes to operations, we normally tell you there are kinetic and non-kinetic operations. This is part of the non-kinetic operation that was conducted. We already know the trauma that the abductees and their family members went through. Giving you more details will subject them and their families to more trauma.”