All the abducted passengers of the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna train would have regained their freedom had their abductors not reneged on a prisoner swap deal with the Nigerian government, PRNigeria has exclusively gathered.
The gruesome train attack, it would be recalled, took place on March 28, 2022.
PRNigeria gathered that there was an agreement between the government and the leadership of the terror group behind the attack to swap the abducted train passengers with some arrested terrorists held in detention by Nigerian security agencies.
A highly-placed source in one of the intelligence agencies in Abuja told PRNigeria that the government took every possible step, but not including ransom payment to secure the release of the train hostages.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, explained that the government adopted the swap deal for the rescue of the train victims to avoid likely collateral damages from military operations.
According to him, the security service in an exchange programme released at least 30 detained family members of terrorists, mostly women and children.
“In fact, a spouse who delivered twins in custody safely was handed over to her parents,” he said.
But rather than abiding by the swap deal agreement, the terrorists, the source said, reneged and only released eleven passengers instead of all the 63 kidnapped victims
He said: “Apart from reneging on the agreement, they were releasing victims in batches in the most dubious and compromising manner.
“They are now exploiting the situations to extort victims’ families for ransom payments, while other elements are exploiting the same for political gains.
“They are aware that we have the exact coordinates of their locations but we are not authorised to strike because of the fear of collateral damages that could trigger massive outcry by human rights activists and even the media if we succeed in doing so,” the source concluded.