President Muhammadu Buhari has explained why it has become quite difficult to rescue the abducted train passengers.
The President made the remarks while welcoming certain citizens of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in honor of Sallah at the State House, Abuja.
He also spoke about the train attacks in Kaduna State, directing security agencies to ensure the rescue of the victims.
On March 28, terrorists attacked the AK9 Abuja-Kaduna train, killing at least nine people, injuring dozens and capturing an unknown number of passengers.
President Buhari, who reassured families that efforts are being made to ensure the safe return of all victims of terrorism, said the government would look at every opportunity to protect its captives, living and not being harmed.
He said, “As we celebrate this occasion with joy amidst friends and family members, we are fully conscious of the fact that many families in our country are in a state of fear and anxiety on account of the many captives held by terrorists against their will, including those taken away after the tragic bombing of the Abuja – Kaduna train.
“I have directed security agencies to ensure quick and safe recovery of all victims of kidnapping. I urge the railway management to immediately set up a situation room for the coordination of the rescue mission and for a minute by minute engagement with the families of the captives.
“This should ease their pain and anxiety as we push the military to finding a safe return to their families. My aim is to see all those in captivity safely rescued.
“Let me assure Nigerians that the bandits are just pushing their luck, but this is only for a while before they are finally crushed. They are using civilians as human shields, thereby making it difficult to confront them directly,” he said.
According to the President, bandits and terrorists, unlike professional soldiers, don’t respect the rules of engagement and could resort to harming hostages when attacked.
“They don’t care about killing their hostages if they come under attack. It’s a delicate situation that requires wisdom, caution and also patience. Any rescue operation that results in the death of any hostage cannot be deemed a success.
“The government doesn’t want this kind of tragic outcome. It’s a complex situation that demands proper handling. The primary objective of any rescue operation is to free the hostages safely, unharmed and alive.
“Let me make it clear, however, that defeating the terrorists and bandits requires more than weapons; we also need human intelligence which is necessary to frustrate terrorist plans. The people and community leaders should help our security officials with information about the activities or movements of criminal groups,” he added.
President Buhari has called on Nigerians to create a climate of hate for criminals hiding in communities.
The President said strong co-operation between security forces and communities would make a huge difference in overcoming crime and terrorism in the country.
President Buhari has allayed fears that criminals will grow up to face another major challenge as they face the threat of Boko Haram, asserting that the authorities will not allow that to happen.