Residents of Maiduguri on Sunday have protest the removal of train coaches from Maiduguri to Jos for repairs by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
The protesters stormed the Maiduguri Railway Terminus with placards asking the NRC not to move the coaches out of Maiduguri to any other state.
One of the protesters, Malam Adamu Ibrahim said they suspected that government was trying to deny Borno of having a train service.
“At the peak of insurgency, the NRC came and took two of the coaches; now they are trying to take everything away. This is unacceptable,’’ he said.
Another protester, Malam Babakura Goni, said the removal of the coaches would deny Borno of critical infrastructure.
Goni said the intention of the NRC or the government was not properly understood, noting that there should be transparency in the exercise.
“This is an economic sabotage of our state. They want to go and renovate the coaches and put them into use in another state,’’ says another resident Malam Babagana Chiroma,
Chroma urged the state government to intervene against the action of the NRC.
The state deputy governor, Malam Usman Kadafur, calmed the residents asking them to be for patient, saying government was already addressing the issue.
He said the protesters were expressing their displeasure over the action of the NRC because there was insufficient sensitisation on its part.
The deputy governor urged the Federal Government to rehabilitate the coaches in Maiduguri and not to take them outside Borno.
Kadafur assured the protesters that government would not allow the action to be undertaken without transparency.
“The Federal Government should look into the possibility of reviving the rail system to revamp our socio-economic activities.
“This rail terminus in Maiduguri has a history of enhancing trans-Sahara activities with neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
“This administration will not allow such action. We are representatives of the Federal Government in Borno.
“If the NRC wanted to engage in such activity, it ought to have informed the state government or even sensitise our people about the move.
“This government will engage with the Federal Government to ensure that things are done in the proper way and transparently,’’ Kadafur further assured.
A story had gone viral on various social media platforms on Saturday that some hoodlums were carting the coaches away in trucks.
Police stormed the train station in Maiduguri to foil the suspected theft and arrested some “suspects’’.
Managing Director of the NRC, Mr Fidet Okhiria, said in a statement issued by the NRC, however, that the people moving the coaches were doing so in official capacity.
Okhiria said the coaches were being moved to NRC’s Running Shed in Jos to be overhauled and put back on track.