The Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, has expressed strong dissatisfaction with the removal of railway coaches from Maiduguri to other states by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), deeming it “suspicious and unfair.” He voiced these concerns during a visit to the Maiduguri Railway Terminus on Tuesday.
Governor Zulum asserted that his government would adhere to all legal procedures to ensure that infrastructure intended for Borno State remains in the state and is not relocated to other regions of the country. He highlighted the lack of communication between the state government and the NRC regarding the decision to move the coaches, and how residents had to intervene when they observed the rolling stock being transported.
Zulum revealed that approximately five months ago, rail infrastructure was transported to other states without the knowledge of Borno’s security operatives and government. The recent movement of rolling stock to other parts of Nigeria prompted alarm within the community. When questioned, the NRC management explained that the coaches were being moved to Jos for a complete overhaul before being dispatched elsewhere.
The governor characterised the decision to relocate these rail assets as a “crudely pursued” action by the NRC. He firmly announced that rail infrastructure would not be moved out of Borno without adherence to the rule of law and urged calm and compliance with the law.
Governor Zulum also emphasized that with the removal of railway management from the exclusive list, Borno would collaborate with the NRC to maximise the benefits of rail transportation. He concluded by asserting that Borno, like other states in Nigeria, possesses equal rights.
The protest over the removal of train coaches from Maiduguri to Jos for repairs by the NRC on Sunday brought hundreds of Maiduguri residents to the Maiduguri Railway Terminus.
The incident, initially reported as an attempted theft of railway coaches, has evolved as authorities have clarified a miscommunication. The suspects arrested for the alleged theft may not have been engaged in a criminal act but were instead caught in a misunderstanding or miscommunication between the parties involved.
The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) released a statement on 15 October 2023, confirming that the coaches were not stolen but officially moved to the NRC running shed in Jos, Plateau State, for maintenance and overhaul, as part of efforts to expand Rail Mass Transit services nationwide.
As investigations into the incident continue, both law enforcement and the NRC have pledged to collaborate to avoid misunderstandings and ensure the secure and efficient operation of the railway system. The situation serves as a reminder of the importance of accurate and timely information to prevent unwarranted apprehensions and confusion.