OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to do all within his powers to expedite action towards securing the release of the remaining 51 victims kidnapped during the Abuja-Kaduna train attack.

Making a case also for all other Nigerians held hostage by bandits and terrorists across the country, the Green chamber called on the Federal Government to urgently set up a high-powered inter-agency panel to coordinate efforts for the release of citizens in custody of the criminals.

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This call for help to families of kidnapped persons, the lawmakers say is in accordance with global best practices.

These resolutions followed a motion sponsored by Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun) and 10 others during Thursday’s plenary.

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Raising the motion, Salam said Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), states that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; Section 17(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution states that the sanctity of the human person shall be recognised and human dignity maintained and enhanced;

He noted that in the last 10 years, terrorism, banditry, kidnappings, and other forms of violent crimes have become a raging security epidemic in different parts of the country.

According to the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), since 2018, there has been a rapid increase in kidnapping, with a rise from 987 victims in 2018 to 1,395 in 2019;

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The lawmakers are therefore worried about the figure of kidnapped persons increased to 2,865 in 2020 and 5,287 in 2021;

They further worried that over 70 % of victims of kidnappings are children, women, and elderly persons who were violently attacked and captured by criminals in the normal course of their daily activities on the farms, villages, roads, worship centres, and other places.

The lawmakers noted their concerns that a large number of these kidnapped citizens have remained in captivity for so many years, months, and days without any form of sustained help to secure their release.

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They also lamented the absence of any social, medical, or economic support to their grieving family members by Government, while expressing worry that some of the unresolved cases of kidnappings include the remnant of the Chibok girls kidnapped in 2014.

Others include the kidnap of Leah Sharibu in February 2018, the Islamiyya School students kidnapped in Niger state on 30th May 2021, students of Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna kidnapped on July 5, 2021, and the Federal Government College, Birni Yauri students kidnapped on 21st of October, 2021.

According to the lawmakers, in the current year 2022, there have been over 100 cases of kidnappings and abduction of innocent Nigerians; one of the most disturbing being the case of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack of March 28.

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“We are saddened that during the train attack, 168 Nigerians were reportedly kidnapped, while 8 persons were killed including a young Doctor due to travel out of the country, the week the incident occurred”.

The abductors of the train attack recently released pictures and video footage of 62 victims held hostage in terrible, physical, and emotional conditions with a threat to kill them if their demands were not met by the Federal Government.

The hostages include children aged 2, 5, 7, and 9 years; men nursing bullet wounds sustained during the attack; a victim who had his leg amputated; diabetic patients, while others are citizens with various health challenges as well as a nursing mother,” the lawmakers stressed.

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The lawmakers noted that stories told by 11 of the hostages recently released by the kidnappers depict the increasingly deteriorating condition of the remaining hostages including children and women who are getting malnourished, emotionally distressed, and psychologically traumatised for over 70 days in the forest.

They expressed concern that if nothing urgent is done to secure freedom for these citizens and hundreds of others in captivity across the country, there might be an increasing loss of confidence in the government.

This they believe may embolden criminally-minded persons and groups to step up these acts of criminality and thus endanger stability of the country.

Following the unanimous adoption of the motion, the House directed its relevant committees to ensure compliance.

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