Terrorists locally known as bandits have requested the release of 16 top commanders and sponsors in government custody in exchange for the release of the over 100 individuals abducted during an attack on the Kaduna-Abuja train.

The attack and abduction, which occurred on March 28, have continued to elicit concerns over the level of insecurity in the country.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had confirmed eight deaths, while many persons were declared missing.

Security sources, according to Punch, said the bandits carried out the violent attack on the train so as to abduct passengers who could be used to bargain for the release of their commanders and sponsors in detention.

It was also gathered that the activities of bandits who are collaborating with the Boko Haram terrorist group to unleash malevolent attacks across the country had since been hampered since the arrest of their sponsors.

On Monday, sources said the bandits in their ongoing negotiations with the Federal Government were demanding prisoners’ exchange.

A senior official said the terrorists were being hampered by the arrest of their top commanders, noting that their sources of funding had been greatly impacted by the arrest of their sponsors.

He stated, “The bandits have made contact (with the government) but the issue now involves the Interpol because they have international collaborators. Security operatives are working to identify their connection to Boko Haram.

“The bandits are after their people who are in custody. They are demanding the release of 16 sponsors and commanders in exchange for the abducted train passengers. That’s why they said in a video that the government knows what they want.

“We arrested some of their commanders and those sponsoring them in Dubai and Nigeria. We have about 16 commanders and sponsors in custody, so they are demanding their release because their sources of funding are declining. I hope the authorities would not release the commanders and sponsors to them because we are getting information on the bandits from the suspects.”

He further said killing the hostages will not make the Nigerian government succumb to what the bandits were demanding from the government.

 “If they kill their hostages, they would not achieve what they are looking for. The fact is that they are being starved of funds and that is why they are making the threat and it is also the reason for the attack on the train. They attacked the train just to get government attention and negotiate the release of their commanders and sponsors,” he stated.

An intelligence official also corroborated the report that the bandits were demanding the release of commanders and ransom, noting that the marauders had been cooperating with Boko Haram fighters in their attacks in Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, Katsina and others.

The official noted, “What they want is prisoners exchange and money. It is a lie that they don’t want money; they want both money and prisoners exchange. They would release the passengers in exchange for many of their members in custody. They are collaborating with Boko Haram to pool resources together and constitute a bigger security threat to the country.”

However, a military source said the military does not negotiate with bandits.

The source said, “It is not our duty to negotiate with the bandits or any other criminal elements. Ours is to fulfil our constitutional duties which we have been doing.”

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