Almost a year, Abuja-Kaduna bound train passengers and workers were kidnapped, another attack on train passengers occured on Saturday evening at Tom Ikimi Train Station located at Igueben community in Igueben Local Government Area of Edo State.
The Edo State Government said 31 persons including passengers and officials of the Railway Corporation were abducted.
Onojie of Igueben, His Royal Highness, Ehizojie Eluojierior, said the kidnapping of the train passengers on Saturday has thrown the community into an unwanted silence as people have yet to recover from the sad incident.
Onojie while speaking with Punch newspaper said that kidnappings had previously happened around the area without getting reported most times.
He said, “The mood in the town is quiet as well as activated because the police, vigilantes, and hunters are working together on the issue. They combed the bush till midnight on Saturday and resumed Sunday morning.
“I hear there had been a similar attempt in Delta State by bandits from another part of the country, which was repelled. The attack took everyone by surprise and it happened at about 4pm when the train was being expected.
“The security agencies are working to rescue those people, and information has it that they also shot people who sustained injuries.
“We are still trying to find out if our people were kidnapped or shot.
“Some people might probably be in hospitals but we are still trying to get details of what happened. No community member has come forward to report about the kidnap of their family members.
“The other thing is that when these people are travelling, you don’t know if they are travelling by road or rail.
“Though concerned citizens have been coming to me to give information about the abduction.
“The council representatives have been with me to see how they can mobilise more vigilantes and hunters.
“A pursuit is going on and it is when they settle down that the gunmen can contact the family of those abducted,” the royal father added.
Spokesperson of the State Police Command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said the attack, left many persons injured.
According to the Police, the abductors, armed with AK 47, invaded the train station and shot sporadically into the air before abducting scores of intending travellers into the bush.
The police said many of the passengers sustained bullet wounds and assured Nigerians that operatives are on the trail of the abductors with aim to rescue the kidnapped victims.
“This is to inform the gentlemen of the press that today, 7th of January, 2023, at about 16:00 hours, unspecified number of herdsmen armed with AK 47 riffles attacked the train station at Igueben, Edo State, and kidnapped unspecified number of passengers, who were waiting to board the train to Warri.
“The kidnappers, who shot sporadically into the air before kidnapping some passengers, left some persons with bullet wounds.
“The Area Commander Irrua, DPO Igueben Division and men, have visited the scene of the crime with members of the Edo State Security Network, local vigilantes, and hunters with a view to protecting the lives and property of the remaining passengers,” Chidi Nwabuzor said.
Edo state Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Osa Nehikhare, said on Sunday that a combined team of the Military, the Police, men of the vigilante network and hunters are currently on the heels of the kidnappers.
Nehikhare said 32 persons were abducted of which one escaped.
“At the moment, security personnel made up of the military and the police as well as men of the vigilante network and hunters are intensifying search and rescue operations in reasonable radius to rescue the kidnap victims.
“As at 3pm Sunday, one suspect has been captured and is helping Police with their investigation.
“One victim out of the 32 people kidnapped escaped from the hands of the abductors. We are confident that the other victims will be rescued in the coming hours.
“The Deputy Governor of the State, Right Honourable Comrade Philip Shaibu has visited the Igueben Train Station for an on-the-spot assessment of rescue efforts and to throw government’s weight behind the security operations”, Nehikhare said.