Just under six weeks ago, on March 28, 68 passengers were abducted by terrorists after the bombing of an Abuja Kaduna train in Nigeria. After five weeks with no news of the terrorists or their victims, contact was finally made in late April outlining the current status of the 68 people held hostage. A local news agency published a filmed video of the kidnapping victims which briefly showed a baby born in captivity to a pregnant woman held hostage. In response to the recent contact, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered security agencies and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to provide the public with updates on the status of the event, but many are frustrated with the lack of communication and pressure to release family members and friends.
In a recent interview on the kidnapping, President Buhari underscored the importance of conducting an effective rescue operation to avoid as many deaths as possible, saying that “this is a delicate situation that requires wisdom, caution and also patience. After also urging the NRC to set up a “situation room for the coordination of the rescue mission and for minute-by-minute engagement with the families of the captives”, President Buhari was criticized by the families of the victims of the ‘removal. . According to them, the Nigerian government is known to cover up kidnappings to avoid negative international attention. In an interview, a representative of the families of the victims said: “The world needs to know what is going on. This government is trying to cover this up and we all need to keep talking about it.
So when President Buhari stressed the speed and diligence put into the rescue mission, many remained suspicious of the legitimacy of his claims. In hostage situations, it is essential that communication be maintained between the government and the family members of the victims. After five weeks without sufficient updates from the government or the kidnappers, it’s no surprise that feelings of mistrust have been building among those close to the hostages. Maintaining silence in order to create an overall illusion of peace and tranquility is unfair and intentionally prioritises a false image over the welfare of the Nigerian public.
Kidnappings and hostage takings, like the one that took place on March 28, have become commonplace in Nigeria. With the intensity of the attacks becoming increasingly violent and brutal, many Nigerians have begun to fear a future in which crime may continue to grow. According to President Buhari, these attacks are becoming less severe as the Nigerian government finally works to weaken the ability of terrorists to gain control of territory within national borders. He said that “in the past, terrorists made it almost impossible to lead a normal life. Road barricades had invaded the capital and people had to pray in fear because of the anxiety of terrorist attacks. And although the Nigerian government has made significant progress in curtailing territorial gains made by terrorist groups, it continues to hide these events from the public, thereby allowing the emotional degradation of those affected by the hostage takings.
It is likely that more hostage-takings will take place in the near future, as the number of kidnappings has not decreased significantly in recent years. In order to ensure that these will be better managed than before, it is necessary that communication be protected and sought between the victims and their families. The global community must remain attentive to the pleas of the Nigerian community during this time in the hope that situations like this can be effectively addressed.