Nine days after his abduction, Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Alwan Ali-Hassan, was, yesterday, set free by terrorists who attacked the Kaduna-bound train in the citadel of Nigeria’s military formations.
The attack left eight passengers dead, while many were taken away by the terrorists, among them Ali-Hassan.
According to a source close to the family, the BoA boss was released on Wednesday after paying an undisclosed amount as ransom.
His daughter, Asma Alwan, confirmed his release with a text message yesterday evening: “Yes, he has been released.”
Also, an official of the bank confirmed the release, saying that the MD has regained his freedom and reunited with his family in Kaduna.
There was, however, 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 more than 160 passengers still missing aboard the ill-fated train to be released. The terrorists had bombed the train track of the Kaduna-bound train from Abuja, between Katari and Rijana, on March 28 and abducted almost half of the passengers.
Ali-Hassan boarded the train with one of his nieces. It is not clear if the niece was also released. Another source close to the family disclosed that over N100 million was paid to secure the release of the bank chief.
In the same development, the Federal Government, yesterday, dismissed insinuations that government had been overwhelmed by the burgeoning insecurity in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who stated this while addressing newsmen, also stated that terrorists who attacked a military base in Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State, were successfully repelled as they suffer heavy casualties.
Speaking after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, Mohammed noted that the details of the casualties suffered by the terrorists were not made available to the public because the military have not been displaying details of their successes in the war on terrorism in the media.
He, however, blamed the media for providing oxygen for terrorists by publishing their activities 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 explained.
Responding to a question on the worsening economic situation in the country, Mohammed blamed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for laying the foundation for the prevailing hunger being experienced by Nigerians.
Nevertheless, the Minister explained that despite the various challenges, the current administration was doing everything to address the situation.