By LUCY OGALUE
ABUJA- The Minister of Transportation, Mua’zu Sambo said that the Federal Government did not pay any ransom in securing the release of the kidnapped victims of March 28 Abuja-Kaduna train attack.
Sambo told newsmen on Friday in Abuja that “no kobo was paid in exchange for the release of the last 23 hostages and other ones as well.”
The minister said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration had zero tolerance for ransom payment.
“In matters that involve national security and intelligence, it is not appropriate to review exactly what measures has been taken in order to secure release of hostages of this nature.
“It is the position of this government that under no circumstances should there be collateral damage,” he said.
According to him, in other words, the military and security agencies that have been charged with the responsibility of securing the release of these hostages should not act in a way that will endanger the lives of these hostages.
“Secondly, there is a committee made up of some retired generals and some retired public officers of high ranking and status who assisted the military and security agencies throughout the process of securing the release of this hostages.
“I want to state categorically, that because this government does not support and approve of ransom payment, no kobo was paid in exchange for the release of this 23 hostages, indeed for the other ones as well.”
On resumption, Sambo said that following the release of the victims, plans were underway to resume the train services in earnest.
“ In order to resume train services, we have to put in place measures that will ensure that going forward such an incident will never happen again in this country.
“We have a short term and long term plan. The short term measures will be put in place very quickly to enable rail services commence.
“ And, beyond a period of three months, we would have put in place a sustainable plan that would ensure that our rail lines are safe and secure and people can travel on them with their mind and hearts assured of safety.”
On why the victims were not present at the briefing, the minister said they required medical care and certain other procedures were required after their rescue.
He, however, noted that after the meeting of the hostages with president Buhari on Friday, they were united with their families.
“ It became obviously difficult to get them back together and bring them here. They actually have a plan of coming to thank the government through the ministry and hopefully they will give us a date next week,’’ Sambo stated. (NAN)