The Abuja-Kaduna train service taking off from Idu Station, Abuja at 6pm on Friday suffered unusual delay of about hours in order to carry two Nigerian ministers.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that the train was delayed on the instruction of Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, who planned to travel to Kaduna alongside his Ministry of Youth and Sports counterpart, Sunday Dare.
Credible sources said Mr Amaechi, who planned to board the train from Kubwa Station, about 20 minutes journey from Idu Station, cancelled the journey upon sensing the impending passengers’ ire, leaving Mr Dare and his security detail to continue with the journey.
Passengers who spoke to DAILY NIGERIAN said the officials were initially silent about the cause of the delay but some of them later revealed to them on the condition of anonymity that the delay was on the instruction of the Transport minister.
“We were not informed about the reason for the delay. They checked us in and left us in the coaches waiting endlessly. Some of us came out of the train to observe Magrib and Isha prayers,” one of the angry passengers, Abubakar Sani, told our reporter.
“As we waited for exactly one hour 40 minutes, we noticed movements of some dignitaries and the train superintendents ordered us to quickly go back into the coaches for the journey.
“Some of the passengers then accosted the dignitaries and their security aides.
“Even as we were being calmed down, some of the angry passengers met the Minister of Sports at his seat to express their dismay.”
Spokesman for the Minister of Transport David Iyofor neither responded to our reporter’s call nor replied to a text message seeking the minister’s response.
The Minister of Sports’ mobile number has been switched off since Saturday afternoon.
In May last year, Judith Amaechi, wife of Mr Amaechi caused a stir at the Port Harcourt International Airport when her security aides prevented a flight from taking off.
Mrs Amaechi’s entourage arrived late for boarding an Abuja bound Air Peace Airline flight and thereafter attempted to force it from taking off without them.
According to a Premium Times report, the minister’s wife’s security aides formed a human barricade to prevent the fully boarded aircraft from taking off while her armed security aides beat up two of the airline’s ground staff for not allowing their principal board the flight.
The affected ground staff were Confidence Elechi, an aviation security station Coordinator/Supervisor, and Innocent Ekot, a flight dispatcher.
According a report by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), two officials of its Customer Care Service/SERVICOM unit on duty, Otobo Edward, and the FAAN Marshaller, Promise Nsirim, were also assaulted by the angry aides when they tried to intervene.
The report by the Crime Investigation/Intelligence Unit of FAAN at the Port Harcourt International Airport said Mrs Amaechi supervised the brutalisation of the officials and directed her aides to seize their staff identity cards, telephones and FAAN on-duty-cards.