Nigerian rail history went a notch darker on Thursday as reports emerged that a narrow-gauge train travelling from Lagos to Kano derailed at Farin Ruwa, near Jaji in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, killing the train driver in the process.
Malam Abdullahi Alhaji, Public Relations Officer, Northern Regional District of the Nigeria Railways Corporation (NRC), Zaria, confirmed the incident to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria on Thursday.
According to Alhaji, Bala Kawu, the driver of the train, died during the incident as the cargo train was conveying soft drinks to Kano.
He said the incident happened as a result of the vandalisation of the sleepers and other accessories of the rail track in the area.
Alhaji said rescue efforts are currently ongoing to recover the remains of the deceased to salvage the situation for the train to continue its journey to Kano.
The nation was thrown into mourning on Monday when suspected terrorists ambushed an Abuja-Kaduna train killing eight passengers, injuring 26 and kidnapping an unspecified number.
The suspected terrorists were reported to have contacted some Nigerian families to say they are holding relatives who went missing following the attack and that they will demand a ransom, the families said on Thursday.
Authorities in Kaduna state said eight people died and 26 were hospitalised when armed gangs blew up train tracks on the Abuja-Kaduna route and kidnapped an unknown number of passengers on Monday night.
Ibrahim Abba told Reuters that unknown men called his family on Tuesday evening, informing them that they were holding his brother, who he said had not been seen since the attack on the train.
“They… assured us that (he) is safe with them,” said Abba, adding that the men said they would call back with instructions for a ransom.
A Kaduna journalist whose mother and sister are among the missing passengers said the suspected bandits made contact on Wednesday night.
“This has confirmed that my mother and sister are alive. They asked us to expect further calls on a ransom demand,” the journalist said.
Another relative, Malama Hadiza Gogo, told Reuters that she too received a call on Tuesday night and was told to stand by for a ransom demand for two missing family members.
Armed gangs roaming north-western Nigeria have spread terror among communities by kidnapping school children and villagers while also attacking security forces. (with agency reports)