By Ibrahim Garba Shuaibu
KANO, Nigeria (AA) - Nigeria’s military has secured the release of the remaining 23 passengers who were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists during an attack in March on a train in northwestern Nigeria, an official announced Wednesday.
Usman Yusuf, Secretary of the Chief of Defense Staff Action Committee, said the captives were released around 4 p.m. local time (1500GMT) and they have taken custody of them.
“I am pleased to announce to the nation and the world that at 1600Hrs. (4:00pm) 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,” Yusuf said in a statement.
“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.”
Yusuf said the victims were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists during an attack on a moving passenger train bound for Kaduna on March 28.
The terrorists had been gradually releasing the hostages with the last freed on Aug. 19.
The insurgents detonated a bomb on the railway track and opened fire on the train, which was travelling from the capital Abuja to the city of Kaduna, killing some of the passengers and abducting more than 60.
Aggrieved family members of the abductees had protested many times, demanding the release of their loved ones.
The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) temporarily suspended train service on the route, with President Muhammadu Buhari directing security agencies to rescue the victims after he met their families.
Tukur Mamu, who was acting as a negotiator for the release of the captives, was arrested last month in Cairo, Egypt while on his way to Saudi Arabia and returned to Nigeria.
Nigeria's secret agency known as the Department of State Services had alleged that Mamu was part of an international terrorist network and used the cover of journalism to perpetrate his deeds.