Nine days after being kidnapped, Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Alwan Ali-Hassan, was, yesterday, released by terrorists who invaded the Kaduna-bound train in the citadel of Nigeria’s military formations.
The attack left eight passengers dead, while many others were abducted by the terrorists, among them Ali-Hassan.
According to a source close to the family, the BoA boss was set free on Wednesday after paying an unrevealed amount as ransom.
His daughter, Asma Alwan, disclosed his release with a brief message yesterday evening: “Yes, he has been released.”
Also, an official of the bank affirmed the release, stating that the MD has been freed and reunited with his family in Kaduna.
However, there was no official confirmation neither from the state government nor the state police command at the time of filing this report.
Ali-Hassan would be the first victim among the over 160 passengers still missing on board the ill-fated train to be freed. The terrorists had blasted the train track of the Kaduna-bound train from Abuja, between Katari and Rijana, on March 28 and kidnapped almost half of the passengers.
Ali-Hassan boarded the train with one of his nieces. It has not been confirmed if the niece was also released. Another source close to the family revealed that over N100 million was paid to secure the release of the bank chief.
MEANWHILE, the Federal Government, yesterday, debunked insinuations that the government had been subdued by the rising insecurity in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who said this while speaking with newsmen, also noted that terrorists who invaded a military base in Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State, were successfully repelled as they suffer heavy casualties.
Speaking after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, Mohammed said that the details of the casualties suffered by the terrorists were not made known to the public because the military have not been revealing details of their successes in the war on terrorism in the media.
He, however, faulted the media for providing oxygen for terrorists by publishing their activities on the front pages of their newspapers.
“Unfortunately, it is the story of second-guessing that is going on and we will continue to give relevant information on the progress we’re making in our fight against terrorism. But we can assure you, we’re on top of this matter and in any country in the world, while we are fighting terrorists, the oxygen they need is what is being provided daily today, which is, they want to occupy the front page of every paper.
“They want to carry out spectacular attacks even when they are down. This is where I think we also seek your support in understanding the mentality of terrorists, that even when they are dying, they will look for the soft underbelly that will keep them relevant, and enable them to get more money from their sponsors and support from their sponsors.
“But clearly, the last three, four, five days, the military recorded massive victories against terrorists and bandits, either in the northeast or in the Kaduna and Niger axis.
“Unfortunately, when we inflict these victories on the bandits for many reasons, we do not come out and say we have killed so many because it’s continuous. But very soon, Nigerians would feel the impact of these victories,” he said.
Reacting to a question on the worsening economic situation in the country, Mohammed faulted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of being responsible for the prevailing hunger being experienced by Nigerians.
Notwithstanding, the Minister explained that despite the various challenges, the present administration was doing everything to resolve the situation.