President, Muhammadu Buhari has said rescuing those kidnapped by terrorists who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna bound requires patience and wisdom as the abductors now use their victims as human shields.
This was contained in a statement by Buhari spokesman, Femi Adesina, titled, ‘Train attack: Bandits using captives as human shields, we’re working on safe return of all, President Buhari assures families’.
Addressing his guests, Buhari said, “As we celebrate this occasion with joy amidst friends and family members, we are fully conscious of the fact that many families in our country are in a state of fear and anxiety on account of the many captives held by terrorists against their will, including those taken away after the tragic bombing of the Abuja – Kaduna train.
“I have directed security agencies to ensure quick and safe recovery of all victims of kidnapping. I urge the railway management to immediately set up a situation room for the coordination of the rescue mission and for a minute-by-minute engagement with the families of the captives.
“This should ease their pain and anxiety as we push the military to find a safe return to their families. My aim is to see all those in captivity safely rescued.
“Let me assure Nigerians that the bandits are just pushing their luck, but this is only for a while before they are finally crushed. They are using civilians as human shields, thereby making it difficult to confront them directly,” he said.
According to the President, bandits and terrorists, unlike professional soldiers, don’t respect the rules of engagement and could resort to harming hostages when attacked.
“They don’t care about killing their hostages if they come under attack. It’s a delicate situation that requires wisdom, caution and also patience. Any rescue operation that results in the death of any hostage cannot be deemed a success.
“The government doesn’t want this kind of tragic outcome. It’s a complex situation that demands proper handling. The primary objective of any rescue operation is to free the hostages safely, unharmed and alive.
“Let me make it clear, however, that defeating the terrorists and bandits requires more than weapons; we also need human intelligence which is necessary to frustrate terrorist plans. The people and community leaders should help our security officials with information about the activities or movements of criminal groups,” he added.
President Buhari urged Nigerians to create a hostile environment for criminals hiding in communities, admonishing that “by protecting criminals from exposure, you are endangering your own security and the security of your own community. No criminal can thrive in an environment where he faces the risks of exposure by the people.”
The President said a stronger synergy between security agencies and communities will make a huge difference in defeating banditry and terrorism in the country.
President Buhari allayed fears that bandits will grow to yet another big challenge as faced by the Boko Haram threat, assuring that the administration will not allow such to happen.
“This administration has allocated huge resources to improve the capacity of our security forces by timely giving them adequate equipment and improving the welfare of personnel to boost their morale.
“Abuja has witnessed remarkable improvements in terms of security. In the past terrorists had made it almost impossible to conduct our normal lives. Road barricades had overrun the capital city and people had to pray in fear because of the anxiety of terrorist attacks. No place in FCT was beyond the terrorist. Not the United Nations building, nor the Police Headquarters.
“But today, the situation is no longer so. We have significantly weakened and crippled the capabilities of the Boko Haram terrorists so much that they no longer have the ability to seize, and occupy any Nigerian territory without being repelled by our gallant troops.
“Of course, we can’t say that the terrorists are one hundred percent destroyed, but we have destroyed their ability to seize our territory. This improvement in terms of significantly weakening the enemy is necessary for finally defeating them. The rate at which the terrorists are giving up their weapons and surrendering to our troops is a significant and welcome development,” he told FCT residents.