Our Position On Rail Track Vandalisations – NUR

Railway Workers Berate Track Vandals And Thieves; Demand For The Prosecution Of All The Track Vandals Arrested In Nasarawa State, June 3, 2021.

We the entire workers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR) have totally condemned the criminal and unpatriotic act of organized vandalization and thieving of Nigerian Railway tracks and other valuable assets as recently perpetrated in Nasarawa State allegedly by one Yusuf Abubakar Musa (Special Adviser to the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdulahi Sule, on infrastructure) along with his partners in crime among whom are Mohammed Isiaka (former Supervisory Councilor on Education in Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area), Mr. Marta Thai (Chinese national and manager of Yong Xing Steel Company Abuja who is the receiver of the stolen railway assets, Jacob Terlumum Emmanuel (Procurement Officer of the Chinese Company), operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

Others, according to the Nasarawa State Commissioner of Police, Bola Longe, that are allegedly involved in this heinous crime and rail track vandalization include Sergeant Mali Peter and Inspector Richard Joseph both attached to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Lafia; Samuel Asoloko of the Nigerian Legion; Ibrahim Amegwa Usman of the Arm Squad Command Headquarters of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in Lafia; and a Judas among the twelve, Samuel Shagbaor (Nigerian Railway staff and Principal Technical Officer in charge of Agyaragu, Lafia; and Nathaniel Oba ( Legal Adviser to the Chinese national and Principal Partner of NathOba and Co, law chamber in Benin Edo State).

The entire Nigerian Railway workers have viewed this unfortunate incident involving such a high-calibre team of criminals as not just a crime against the rail transport sub-sector but a heinous siege against the citizenry and Nigerian State and a drainpipe against the commendable financial commitment, political will and quest of the federal government of Nigeria in evolving a better, more efficient and effective rail transport system. This crime is a deliberate crime against the social integration of Nigeria which only can be achieved by a sustainable railway transport as a prime and additive distributor of the nation’s populace. It is a crime and attack of massive and unquantifiable destruction to the nation’s transport economy which rests on the rail transport infrastructure as its backbone and mainstay. It is indeed a crime against all of us Nigerians who procured and built this vandalized railway with our collective patrimony!

It is consequent upon the foregoing grounds that we earnestly demand for the full backing of the federal government, Nasarawa State government and, of course, Nigerian Railway management to the Inspector General of Police with a view to carrying out a full-scale investigation, diligent scrutiny and unbiased profiling of all involved in this condemnable act of vandalization and thieving of railway tracks and assets for encounter with the law. If the investigation is thoroughly and painstakingly carried out, we strongly believe that more actors and collaborators behind the vandals and thieves; buyers; legal adviser to Yong Xing Steel Company Nigeria Limited; and the Chinese national all already apprehended, will be exposed.

For this ring of alleged thieves and vandals to have as members a Special Adviser on infrastructure to an incumbent governor, arms-carrying personnel of the Police, Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Legion, a Chinese national with an active company in Nigeria, and a serving staff of Nigerian Railway for that matter, then these people must have masters in high places who they are working for. We share in the rationality that it is extremely pertinent to dig to the down-bottom of this unpatriotic act in order to unmask the kingpins and make a deterrent out of these accused and, more importantly, save Nigerian Railway from the hands of these vandals by making buying of stolen railway assets an abhorrence as it used to be in the olden days.

In material particular, the Chinese national (Marta Thai or whatever he calls himself) who can never commit such crime against China either for the reason of patriotism or fear of being found guilty and sentenced to death must not be spared from the full wrath of the law of our land if found culpable. No Nigerian will ever do this to China in China and go scot-free. In fact, everybody involved must be brought to book! We the Nigerian Railway Workers under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Railway Workers will not relent in following up this case until justice is served and deterrent attained. In the same vein, we demand that all cases of vandalization and theft of the assets of Nigerian Railway on which arrests have been made should be dusted up and pursued to a logical end. For instance, the operatives of the NSCDC in Benue State, under the command of Sadique Okeji, arrested some vandals for similar offence in April this year.

Also, we hope to see the outcome of the case of those arrested under the Command of FV Afrika of the NSCDC Command in Enugu for track vandalization sometime in January this year among many other cases of theft and vandalization. To forestall further vandalization of our hard-earned assets, we use this opportunity to call on all the workers of the Corporation to join in putting a stop to this phenomenon by consciously putting an eye on happenings around and within the railway premises especially as concerned issues of scrap items, suspected theft and vandalization. All our members and the railway staff general are hereby enjoined to say something whenever they see something. It is unacceptable to us to watch those that vandalise, and steal railway property go scot-free.

The Nigerian Railway workers are under obligation as patriotic citizens of this great country and social partners for the continued growth of the railway system to be thankful and appreciative of the federal government for its exemplary commitment to the repositioning of the railway industry through massive and capital-intensive infrastructure development and gradual system transition from narrow gauge track system to standard gauge track system. So far, Abuja – Kaduna; Lagos – Ibadan; and Warri – Itakpe railways now effectively functional with many more of such railway expansion and development to come in the near future are proofs of the success of the federal government on the industry.

To put a stop to the incessant thieving and vandalization of the railway tracks and other assets, we have the following pieces of advice for the federal government and Nigerian Railway management:

i. Employment of track men (i.e lenghtmen, gangers, and track patrol men) should be done based on catchment area whereby young and employable youths from within host community of the railway tracks should be employed to man and patrol the tracks. For instance, if the youths of Eggon community are employed to patrol the tracks within their community, there will be some sense of belonging and commitment to really protecting the railway facilities within their community as their personal property. Employing trackmen from Ibadan and transferring them to man tracks in Lafia community will not correlate. For the protection of the tracks, employment based on catchment area is the answer as it was done in the gone days.

ii. Trains operation, which is at the lowest ebb now because of acute lack of adequate fleet of locomotive engines, wagons, and coaching facilities, should be increased so as to get the tracks busy. The federal government should procure more locos and rolling stocks and spare parts to sustain the life spans of the movable assets and also achieve optimal train operation and track engagement. The spate of vandalization and thieving of railway tracks and other assets will drastically drop if the tracks are engaged with optimal trains operation. Nobody will dare steal or vandalize tracks that are engaged. The federal government should, therefore, complete the rehabilitation of the Eastern line by mobilizing the rehabilitation contractors back to site to finish the unfinished work on the Eastern line between Maiduguri and Port Harcourt.

By so doing, the narrow gauge will not be abandoned but promptly fixed to feed the ongoing construction of the standard gauge which, to some extent, occurs on the same narrow gauge track corridors. Federal government should be reminded that narrow gauge system must not be abandoned because of its predominant distribution and links to about twenty six State capitals of Nigeria. Narrow gauge system has the comparative advantage over standard gauge because it connects nooks and crevices of the country known for agrarian occupation. The narrow gauge will serve in food distribution and availability across the country. It will also help tremendously in bringing back to life diverse business activities good and productive enough to engage millions of Nigerians;

iii. Federal government should, as a matter of necessity, stop the scrapping of irons (ferrous and non-ferrous) in their raw and direct forms because this encourages uncontrollable movement of railway irons and scraps. To differentiate authorized scrapping and lifting of unused items from the Corporation from the stolen ones, there is need to ensure that all the irons and other scraps to be sold and transported out of the railway premises must be cut to pieces, properly documented and way-billed. Lifting of iron scraps by buyers without first dismantling and cutting the iron to pieces has helped indiscriminate movement of railway items too difficult to be ascertained as stolen or genuinely scrapped and sold out.

We commend the leadership and acumen of the Nasarawa State Commissioner of Police, Bola Longe, who spared no one but diligently announced the nefarious deed of the thieves and vandals of the railway items irrespective of the political gigantism and connections of these undesirable elements who are sworn to cripple Nigerian Railway by stealing and vandalizing it to extinction. In especial particular, we are grateful to Citizen Annette Eyo, Chief Superintendent of Police who preferred gallantry, patriotism and integrity to a whopping amount of bribe to sway his exemplary discretion. You occupy a special place in our heart for being so dutiful and diligent. May you reap the rewards of your professionalism here on earth and in heaven. Amen!

Signed: Comr. Amb. Innocent Luka Ajiji, President General, NUR and Comr. Segun Esan, fcipa Secretary General, NUR

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