Power and rail infrastructure are the most attacked assets in Nigeria in the last three years. This was disclosed in a report by a socioeconomic research firm, SBM intelligence, yesterday, titled: ‘Attacks on infrastructure in Nigeria.’
According to the report, an overwhelming majority of attacks on infrastructural installations since 2019 by non-state actors occurred in the North.
The report comes as the Federal Government blamed last weekend’s national grid collapse on an act of vandalism on a transmission tower on the Odukpani-Ikot Ekpene 330KV double circuit transmission.
The research firm identified 25 attacks on infrastructure in the country between May 2019 and March 2022 across the country, which listed 19 of the attacks in the North and six in the South.
The report revealed that from Q3, 2019 to Q1, 2022, power generation plants suffered six attacks in Borno State alone.
In the Northwest, Kaduna State has experienced five train attacks and two airport attacks within the same period. The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has also experienced a train attack at the Bwari area during the same period.
Other states that experienced an attack on its rail infrastructure within the same period are Niger and Ogun, while the data for the South-South region revealed attacks in a factory in Edo State and pipeline attacks in Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa Ibom states.
There were only two attacks on infrastructure in the Southwest within the period under review. They are the February 2022 attack on a rail line in Ogun and an attack on the Dangote refinery at Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, in March by hoodlums. There were zero attacks on infrastructures in the Southeast region within the period under review.
Last month, terrorists attacked a Kaduna-bound train after using explosives to blow up the rail tracks, forcing the train to stop. Nine people died in the attack, others sustained injuries and the gunmen abducted over 100 people.
IRKED by what they claim as nonchalant attitude of government towards the plight of the train victims two weeks after the incident, relatives have handed down 72-hour ultimatum to the Federal Government to ensure the release of their loved ones still in captivity.
Giving the ultimatum on Monday night, they said since the incident, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) was yet to reach out to them.
Dr. Abdulfatai Jimoh, who spoke on behalf of the victims’ families, said government should ensure that their beloved ones are rescued from captivity unhurt.
He said: “It is better that the government goes into negotiation with the terrorists as they have demanded in a recent viral video, so as to secure the release of our loved ones.”
This, he maintained was not out of place, since the government seemed incapacitated to protect the lives and property of citizens.
“This incident happened on March 28, a day or two after, most of us had communication with our relatives. The kidnappers said that we should be ready that they are going to contact us again.
“But we have not heard any communication from them since then. Since this incident happened, we expected that by now, the government, NRC and the Federal Ministry of Transportation should have reached out to us and tell us what effort they are making to rescue our loved ones unhurt.
“But while expecting telephone calls from the abductors as they promised, we were traumatised to see our loved ones being paraded in a video released by the terrorists. They made it very clear that they want to discuss with the government; that they have something with the government.
“We don’t know what they want from the government. But it’s now an opportunity and a window for the government to rescue our loved ones by opening a channel of communication with them (terrorists). This is not out of place. It is done anywhere in the world. We don’t know what is between them, but it is something that can be resolved in the interest of the lives of citizens. A life is very sacred, not to talk of more than a hundred.
“We have been in serious anguish in the past 15 days. Many of us have not been sleeping. We are like living corpses. We have decided collectively that we are giving the government 72 hours to do everything that’s necessary to rescue our loved ones,” he said.
MEANWHILE, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has knocked President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies over their collective failure to secure the release of the over 100 kidnapped victims of the Kaduna-Abuja train.
HURIWA, in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, reminded the government that its primary duty is the protection of life and property of citizens, according to Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The group said it was utterly disappointing that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and a retired general has failed to secure Nigerians, let alone rescue those abducted by kidnappers.
On Monday, multiple sources explained that the terrorists in their ongoing negotiations with the Federal Government were demanding prisoners’ exchange.
“The terrorists had last week released one of their hostages, the Managing Director, Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, whose family members reportedly paid ransom. 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.
“It is shameful that the kidnapped victims of Kaduna-Abuja train attack are still not rescued by the Nigerian Army, Air Force and other security agencies, who have equally failed at their responsibilities like their Commander-in-Chief.
“HURIWA demands quick action by the government and security agencies to free all hostages languishing in the different camps of terrorists without any further waste of time.”
HOWEVER, the Nigerian Armed Forces have made a major burst in the fight against banditry and terrorism in the country. The joint troops have intercepted N60 million being taken to criminals as ransom for the freedom of captives. Shockingly, some of the couriers nabbed are operatives of yet-to-be-disclosed security agencies.
The military, in intelligence-driven operations, also rescued kidnapped victims including women and children. The assault conducted by a Nigerian Army squadron and Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Special Forces took out a number of the bandits.
The contingent is of the 271 NAF in Birnin Gwari and Army Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Gwaska, Kaduna.
“N60 million in cash, petroleum products and sophisticated weapons were recovered during the operations”, an operative told newsmen yesterday.
“We will refer the case of the arrested couriers, who have identifications with security agencies, to the Department of State Service (DSS) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) for further investigation.”
Troops also recovered vehicles, AK-47 rifles, magazines, various kinds of ammunition and mobile phones.
It was gathered that the DIA alerted the DSS and the military that some persons were to move questionable funds through Kaduna. “After the hint, the DSS and the military deployed Special Forces to the road. The suspects were caught and the hostages rescued,” a source said.
It is unclear if the N60 million intercepted was from a single operation or if the victims were part of those abducted after the March 28 deadly train attack.
Also, spokesman of the Kaduna State police command, ASP Muhammed Jalige, yesterday disclosed that a joint operation of the army, navy and police have foiled the attack by terrorists in Kaduna, killing one of the terrorists, while others fled with bullet wounds.
Acting on information of the invasion by terrorists in Akwando village in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna, security operatives stormed the area and engaged the bandits in a gun duel.
Jalige said that the joint security forces “at about 4:00p.m. acted on information that some scrupulous elements with sophisticated weapons suspected to be bandits have invaded Akwando Village to ferment their usual carnage. On getting the information, the combined team of the operatives immediately came to the location to prevent the criminals from carrying out their nefarious mission.
“The criminal elements on sighting the operatives started firing, which the operatives returned with tactics and precision, and succeeded in neutralising one bandit and recovered from him an AK-47 rifle loaded with 17 rounds of live ammunition, while the remaining bandits fled with bullet wounds.
“The body has been deposited at Kachia General Hospital as investigation and rigorous patrol is ongoing with a view to apprehending the fleeing bandits.”