Economics, politics and hypocrisy of Abuja-Kaduna train victims’ release

BY SHEHU ABDULLAHI

The lingering captivity and piecemeal release of victims of the Kaduna-Abuja train attack have proven the hypocrisy of some interests, including persons and groups in the country. Since the incident in March 2022, concerted efforts are being made to free the victims. A security source involved in the rescue efforts confided that the government has taken every possible step but not including ransom payment to secure the release of the hostages. Swapping deal, as I learnt, is the method that has been adopted for the accomplishment of this objective. Though may not be popular among Nigerians, prisoner swapping in violent conflict environments is a common practice all around the world. Even in such sophisticated countries as US, UK, Israel etc, relevant authorities take same option to address the problem of hostage taking and prisoners of war. Nigeria indeed, as part of the global community is not exempted from taking the same approach.

In this instance, 30 detained terrorists majorly comprising their children and pregnant spouse were released in exchange. The woman, who was delivered of twins, well taken care of at the expense of government and handed over to her parents in Maiduguri, as disclosed by credible security sources, remains appreciative. But the first sign of deceit in the exchange bargain came when only eleven of the 63 kidnapped victims were released by the terrorists. While government was true to its bargain, the terrorists played a fast one by reneging on theirs. Instead, they have continued to release the victims in batches. The timelines showed that the MD Bank of Agriculture was released on 6 April, a pregnant woman on May 15, 2022, seven others on July 10 and 5 on August 2, 2022.

Despite the effort by government, it is worrisome that some desperate persons have taken advantage of the situation. A few unpatriotic individuals are now exploiting the development for subversive and/or financial gains. They want to make money from it. They are playing politics with it. What a hypocrisy!

Shortly after the unfortunate attack and kidnap of the innocent victims, a so called Tukur Mamu took up the role of spokesperson and Chief Negotiator for their release. It sparked curiosity as to who chose Tukur Mamu as lead negotiator between the passengers’ family and the terrorists and how he made contact with the terrorists less than a week after the kidnapping. This is in spite of the withdrawal of his boss, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, who previously declared that he would no longer represent the bandits in negotiations following their designation as a terrorist group by the Federal Government. So, for whom is Mamu now working? For a journalist with associates/sources, it is safe to assume his allies also include terrorists who damage critical infrastructure and killed a 26yr old young youth corps Doctor? He sure, lacks legitimacy to embark on his inglorious act. Mamu has failed as a citizen. He should be tagged a dangerous person of interest.

Trying to blackmail the government by peddling the narrative of its inaction or refusal to pay ransom is another act of insincerity by Mamu and his sponsors. Curiously though, Mamu’s supposed effort has only led to the release of victims who are either his friends or related to them. It is also surprising that majority of those so far released are victims with direct or indirect linkage to members of the opposition. One of such is Abdullahi Ango’s son. Little wonder, released victims have continued to troop into Mamu’s house to pay homage in appreciation of his role. Mamu is double-faced.

Another show of disdainful hypocrisy is the silence from CSOs and NGOs over the viral video where terrorists were seen flogging kidnapped victims. One thing that cannot be taken away from the civil societies in Nigeria is their deliberate quest and hunger to attack the Nigerian Government even on frivolous issues. They are quick to castigate, cast aspersions and cry foul from assumptive illusions all to paint those in authority in bad light. A known best excuse for these professed CSOs often hinges on adherence to fundamental human rights in a democratic environment and in most occasions, logic is thrown out of the window even when it is widely acknowledged that these rights are limited.

It therefore did not come as a surprise that the same CSOs who waste no time and effort in throwing the Nigerian government to the dogs, deliberately choose silence to images/clips of terrorists flogging innocent victims. No condemnation or disparagement was directed at the despicable actions of these terrorists by CSOs. No calls for respect for human rights. Only deafening silence! In fact, the rage was hypocritically directed at the Nigerian government for failing to pay for the release. Their body language indicated that government should have released the ransom to the terrorists otherwise they would not have flogged the victims. This is despite knowing that ransom payment is a veritable source for funding terrorism. Meanwhile, Mamu and his supporters including CSOs and NGOs are busy criticising the government and not urging their “associates” to keep their end of the bargain; what a display of hypocrisy.

For the so-called terrorists and their sympathisers who identify themselves as Muslim faithful, they should know that their acts are not only against Islamic jurisprudence but the teachings of the Prophet (SAW). As a matter of fact, Islam forbids targeting non-combatants by killing, kidnapping or taking them as hostages or inflicting any kind of injury on them. Such should be sacred laws that no Islamic adherent should cross. There are rules on how to deal with even those who wage war against Islam. Even in the conduct of jihad, the Prophet (SAW) highly stressed against killing of women, children, old men, traders (businessmen)/farmers or a monk in his monastery as well as cutting down trees. No doubt that those who hide behind politics to voice out their sinister interest also have a feel day. Rather than joining in their ransom collection business, Mamu should focus his efforts on preaching the gospel of true Islamic jurisprudence to his newfound ‘friends’.

A lesson learnt from the Kaduna-Abuja train saga is that the actions of Mamu and that of the civil society are no doubt related. Seeking the release of his friends and subsequent withdrawal thereafter as spokesman of the bandits by Mamu is suspicious. The quietness of CSOs in the face of abuse of fundamental human rights by terrorists reveals their two-facedness. Terrorists and their sponsors that condemn Government for its failings but deviate from real Islamic doctrine are the most hypocritical. It is obvious Islam isn’t their ideal. Crime and easy money are. Their day with justice must come and soon! In all, the tendencies show the hypocrisy of advocacy in Nigeria and pursuance of personal interests under the guise of service to humanity. These too underly the politics and falsehood that have characterised the whole saga of the release.

Shehu Abdallahi wrote in from Gusau, Zamfara State

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