Buhari, who made the disclosure while meeting with the representatives of the abducted train passengers’ families at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, assured that the Federal Government was doing everything within its powers to ensure the safe return of the remaining abductees.
Condoling with the families of the victims and those who lost their loved ones, the President said since the “terrible and cowardly attack by the criminal elements” on March 28, the country had joined them to endure a period of difficulty and emotional pains.
According to a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari told representatives of the families that in the immediate aftermath of the incident several actions have been taken by government to bring succour to the affected families and to prevent a recurrence in the country.
He said: “I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers, and our determination is to work towards returning these 31 people to their families.
“It is understandable that emotions typically run high, we have received several suggestions about the deployment of lethal military force in extracting those still being held in captivity.
“This option has indeed been considered and evaluated.
“However the condition to guarantee a successful outcome and minimise potential collateral damage could not be assured and therefore that course of action had to be reluctantly discarded.
“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt.”
On his recent instruction to security and law enforcement agencies to bring an end to inhumane action against innocent Nigerians, the President expressed delight, saying: “Judging by the available reports to me and news that have begun emerging in the last few days, I will say they have heard this instruction and are responding appropriately.
“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop, or reduce.
“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country.
“Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand.”
President Buhari further commended the bravery and gallant actions taken by members of the Nigeria Police Force who were onboard the train on that fateful day.
“It is clear that their actions saved many lives and by making the ultimate sacrifice, they must be recognised for their bravery,” he said.
Buhari added that he had never doubted the ability or confidence of those who have presented themselves to defend the country, noting that the Kaduna train incident had reinforced the belief and faith of the nation in this special group of Nigerians.
“I also would like to use this opportunity to say that we are cognisant of events that have unsettled our citizens in various parts of our nation and in the capital.
“I would like to comfort those who were traumatised by these tragic events and pledge that our response is to protect all Nigerians wherever they are.
“My dear country men and women, we thank God that none of the released prisoners died due to the severe trauma they passed through in the hands of the terrorists, showing that the efforts of Government in securing their release were not in vain as Government continues to do its best to secure the release of the remaining abductees and ensure the overall security of all citizens in the country,” the President stated.
In his remarks, the Minister of Transportation, Jaji Sambo, said in the first week of his resumption in the ministry, he met with the relatives of the victims of the Kaduna train attack, updating them of all the efforts the government is making to ensure safe return of their loved ones.
Sambo described the audience with the President as a manifestation of the efforts by this administration to secure the release of all captives, and proof that the “government is not resting on its oars”.
A representative of the victims of the abducted train passengers, Alhaji Sabiu Mohammed, appealed to the Federal Government to assist the families in the release of their remaining loved ones still in captivity.
“Please we want to see our loved ones and many have found themselves in very critical situations. We do not have the money that they (kidnappers) are demanding.
“Please, Mr President, we know you are doing your best…please, please we want to see our loved ones,” Mohammed said.