Train Attacks Call For Proactive Steps

Train Attacks Call For Proactive Steps

Just as Nigerians were recovering from the March 28, 2022, attack; an unusual chapter in the nation’s railway services in which terrorists bombed an Abuja-Kaduna bound train as they rained bullets, killing a few passengers and seizing scores of them, the New Year yet heralded a fresh episode.

The earlier event caught the security agencies napping as it equally humiliated our exalted posturing as having put behind the excesses of the agents of terrorism across the country. It jolted the nation and punctured our collective pride even as it exposed the fresh tactics of the terrorists. It is the first time our rail services would witness such an unprecedented level of devastation by terrorists.

In the aftermath of the Kaduna train attack, it was reported that hundreds of millions of naira were paid as ransom to secure the release of captives in the den of the terrorists. While we bother about the humongous sums lost to such masterminds of brigandage and mindless attacks, the loss of lives gives us more concern. No one life can be purchased, notwithstanding how considerable the cost is. We once again sympathise with families and loved ones of victims of that attack once again.

It was clear who the masterminds of that attack were as their audacious pronouncements clearly spelt out their source and mission which are not at variance with a known group’s modus operandi.

The authorities promised then that they were going to overrun the terrorists, promising that they would not find the nation a safe haven to perpetrate their activities. It is sad that there have been pockets of spontaneous attacks on various targets notwithstanding these promises.

We agree that these attacks may not cease completely soon but to allow another attack in Igueben Train Station, Edo State just months after the Kaduna incident in which some lost their lives with scores of persons abducted appears we have not really learnt from the recent past where it was largely agreed that public spaces like train stations and similar facilities require more than a casual approach to security.

It is also not certain if added security measures like Close Circuit Television, CCTV, and bodily search are in place in most of our stations which are often very crowded. Relying on comments relayed by some media, the State Governor Godwin Obaseki was quoted as saying that the security measures in place at the time of the attack were unreasonable and not in tune with the reality we face today. To put it succinctly, the security at the train station was porous and could easily be breached.

Although there is a salutary aspect to the Edo saga as some of the abductees are getting freed through the combined effort of security agencies and vigilance groups, there are concerns that we need to fortify our public spaces beyond mere symbolism. Where only one policeman was said to be on duty on the day of the Edo attack is laughable and embarrassing. The attackers must have exploited that laxity to launch their escapade.

We must not fail to stress it clearly that it is not good business for our railway system which now seems prone to attacks. There is a need more than ever to be proactive in terms of security across our railway networks to engender confidence in the public who at a time found the system as a reliable, safer means of transport. That confidence should not be frittered away on the altar of avoidable lapses. Besides, it is bad business for the railway system in which billions of naira has been expended to re-invigorate.

We must put in place water-tight security across our railway system to keep at bay real or potential security breaches. In doing so, the authorities can also leverage technology to assist manual operations which are globally being used to merely complement the other.

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