On March 28, 2022, armed terrorists launched a bloody offensive on the Abuja-Kaduna train with about 970 passengers onboard, shooting at the passengers and kidnapping some of them.
The attack, which occurred a few kilometres to Kaduna metropolis, left about eight people killed, dozens injured and about 168 kidnapped by the bandits.
Some of the victims later regained their freedom from the terrorist through concerted efforts of security agencies and stakeholders while some were in captivity till Wednesday, Oct. 5 when other victims were finally released.
One of these unsung heroes is the the Minister of Transportation, Mr Mu’azu Sambo had been actively involved in the release of victims while also sympathizing with victims’ families.
On field and off field, Sambo, being the Minister of Transportation doubled as a member of the security agents working tirelessly to secure release of victims while also paying visits to victims’ families to give assurance on the release of others.
On Oct. 5, a statement signed by Prof. Usman Yusuf Secretary, Chief of Defense Staff Action Committee (CDSAC) revealed that a seven-man Presidential Committee assembled by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General LEO Irabor has secured the release and took custody of all 23 remaining passengers held hostage by terrorists.
The statement read that “the nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian Military under the leadership of the CDS who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish.
“All sister Security Agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this Operation.
“The unwavering support of the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari is what made it all possible.” It read.
On July 6, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mu’azu Sambo, a former Lagos Area Manager of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), as the new Minister of Transportation.
The Minister in his spirit of walking the talk got involved in the train attack incident from his first day in office which was about four months after the incident occurred.
The victims’ families had protested initial plans by the government to re-open the Abuja-Kaduna route and the Minister was on ground to assure the public that Abuja-Kaduna rail line would not resume until all those kidnapped by bandits were rescued and reunited with their families.
Sambo said the Federal Government was deploying advanced technologies to rail services across the country to forestall similar security breaches.
“I recall that on the first day of my resumption, I was going to resume, the families of the victims blocked the road to the office and i made the pledge before God and before them that all power lies with God but I will do everything within my powers to seek for secondary power from almighty God to get their relatives released and reunited with them.” he said.
It can also be recalled that the Minister while fielding questions on the suspension of the train service following the March 2022 attack said it will be insensitive to recommence the train services.
Sambo said the Federal Government cannot recommence the Abuja-Kaduna train services because it will be insensitive to the plight of families whose loved ones kidnapped in the corridor are still in captivity.
In August, when asked about how soon the train services would resume, Sambo said: “If I give a timeline, I’ll be lying to you. It will be insensitive to restart the service if some families weep day and night over their members still in the bush.”
He said the government was mindful of the cost involved but should be able to report definite progress in about a month.
Here we are today celebrating the release of the victims while also appreciating efforts of heroes who do not put in just words but actions to follow up on affirmations.
The Minister, with this feat has demonstrated that he is an “active listener” just as he was described in a birthday message penned down by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Dr Sam Idiagbonya on Sept. 7.
The Taraba State born Engineer was described as a “detribalised Nigerian who discharges his duty passionately in any office he finds himself.”
According to hybridnewsng.com findings “Timeline revealed that Sambo’s working experience in various organizations over the years earned him many awards and commendations in recognition of his meritorious services, amongst which were: National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Best Area Office Award in Lagos for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019
He was also recognised for his special contribution in the initiation and construction of the new Area Office in Lagos and Best Area Manager Award for Revenue Generation and Collection at the Port Harcourt Area Office of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
He received commendation during his working days at NICON Insurance Corporate Office in Abuja for the successful completion of the construction of the NICON Headquarters Building in Abuja.
Allied Bank of Nigeria PLC Lagos also conferred on him the MD/CEO’s Award for Outstanding Performance on his professional touch in the completion of the construction of their headquarters building in Lagos.
Sambo also received a special award and commendation for successfully pioneering and completing the First Direct Labour Project at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Lagos, for the construction of the NPA Clinic in Apapa, Lagos.
In 2019, he received the Fellowship Award of the Institute of Oil and Gas Research and Hydrocarbon Studies for Outstanding Performance as General Manager, Lagos Zone of the National Inland Waterways Authority, (NIWA).
Other Awards and Recognitions received by the indefatigable gentleman include: Nigeria Transport Award (Transport Day Magazine) Distinguished Transport and Maritime Administrator of the Year 2018.
President’s Award of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transportation of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) in 2015.
Nigeria Merchant Naval Officers and Water Transportation Senior Staff Association Award of Excellence in 2014.