The bandits who attacked the Kaduna-Abuja train, are demanding that 16 of their sponsors and commanders who are in government custody to be released in exchange for the release of over 100 people abducted from the train on about last month.
Reliable security sources were of the view that the bandits carried out the violent attack on the train just to abduct passengers who could be used to bargain for the release of their commanders and sponsors in detention.
According to PUNCH, the arrest of the suspects had severely hampered the deadly activities of the bandits who are collaborating with the Boko Haram terrorist group to unleash malevolent attacks across the country.
The terrorists had on March 28 at Katari, Kaduna State, attacked the train which was heading for Kaduna from Kaduna.
After the attack, security agencies reported that eight bodies were recovered from the attack scene and 26 persons were injured
The Nigerian Railway Corporation said it was unable to establish contact with 163 passengers and seven crew members who boarded the train.
On Monday, multiple sources explained that the bandits in their ongoing negotiations with the Federal Government were demanding prisoners’ exchange.
The gang had last week released one of their hostages, the Managing Director, Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, due to his age. In a video showing the victim in their midst, the gunmen said the government knew what they wanted and threatened to kill the remaining hostages if their demands were not met.
On Sunday, the terrorists released another video where some of the captives were seen calling on the government to come to their rescue.
But a senior official said the terrorists were being hampered by the arrest of their top commanders, noting that their sources of funding had been greatly impacted by the arrest of their sponsors.
He stated, “The bandits have made contact (with the government) but the issue now involves the Interpol because they have international collaborators. Security operatives are working to identify their connection to Boko Haram.
“The bandits are after their people who are in custody. They are demanding the release of 16 sponsors and commanders in exchange for the abducted train passengers. That’s why they said in a video that the government knows what they want.”
“We arrested some of their commanders and those sponsoring them in Dubai and Nigeria. We have about 16 commanders and sponsors in custody, so they are demanding their release because their sources of funding are declining. I hope the authorities would not release the commanders and sponsors to them because we are getting information on the bandits from the suspects,” the source noted.
Commenting on the group’s threats to kill the hostages, the security officer argued that such an action would not give the bandits what they were demanding from the government.
“If they kill their hostages, they would not achieve what they are looking for. The fact is that they are being starved of funds and that is why they are making the threat and it is also the reason for the attack on the train. They attacked the train just to get government attention and negotiate the release of their commanders and sponsors,” he stated.
An intelligence official also corroborated the report that the bandits were demanding the release of commanders and ransom, noting that the marauders had been cooperating with Boko Haram fighters in their attacks in Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, Katsina and others.
The official noted, “What they want is prisoners’ exchange and money. It is a lie that they don’t want money; they want both money and prisoners’ exchange. They would release the passengers in exchange for many of their members in custody. They are collaborating with Boko Haram to pool resources together and constitute a bigger security threat to the country.”