The police in Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna are on the trail of the killers of Matthew Danjuma Oguche, a young agriculturist and his British aid worker partner, Faye Mooney.
The two were on Saturday killed by armed gunmen at a popular resort Kajuru Castle, 60km off Kaduna in northern Nigeria, where three others got kidnapped. The kidnappers are now demanding $165,000 for the three kidnapped persons.
“Intensive efforts are being made by the (Police) Command to rescue the kidnapped persons, apprehend the fleeing culprits and bring them to justice.” Yakubu Sabo, a police spokesman said on Sunday.
Kidnapping gone wrong
The deaths were due to a kidnapping attempt gone wrong after the gunmen started “shooting sporadically and in the process shot dead two persons including an expatriate lady.” Some of the injured persons were later rescued to hospital, Police said.
Matthew and his friends were on an Easter getaway from Nigeria’s commercial city of Lagos. He worked with International NGO Safety Organisation, INSO, a company that offers security awareness and training for foreign aid agencies such as Mercy Corps, where Mooney worked.
A statement on its website said Oguche had been with the organisation since “early 2018 and was involved in the delivery of Personal Safety and Hostile Environment Awareness courses to our NGO partners.”
“Seen as the ‘little-brother’ of the training team, Matthew was a kind, intelligent and outward looking young man with a passion for learning and a deep commitment to helping others.” INSO said while condoling his family.
As investigations continue, it is not yet clear if Matthew had engaged the gunmen in a fight due to his hostile environment training skills possibly to rescue his British girlfriend who may have been ‘the catch’ for the kidnappers, in an area rife with cases of abduction of locals and foreigners.
One source familiar with the matter told local media that Matthew and Faye were accommodated in rooms in one of the towers but “got terrified and attempted to leave the rooms and in the process they were hit by bullets as they attempted to run down the staircase.”
“The bandits climbed up the rock by the gate. When they started shooting, the two mobile police guarding the place responded, so they knew there were armed policemen inside and they couldn’t come in. The two people they killed were already tensed in their rooms in one of the towers. They were panicking and they rushed out of their rooms and started running down the stairs. So as they were running down the staircase, the bandits saw them and shot them.” The source said.
Five people were initially said to have been abducted by the kidnappers; four staff of the castle and a bus driver who brought some guests, but two of them staff of the castle, later managed to escape.
Police sources in the kaduna community of Kajuru, where the shooting occurred, said the bandits have now made demands of 60 million naira or
$165,000 ransom for the release of the three victims. They made the demand on Sunday through a phone call to a staff of the castle.
Colleagues and families react
“Faye was a dedicated and passionate communications and learning specialist,” said Neal Keny-Guyer, chief executive of Mercy Corps, where she worked for almost two years, in a statement on social media. The organisation said her colleagues were “heartbroken” by the news of her sudden death.
The deceased Briton’s next-of-kin had been notified said, David Smith, a Spokesman of the British High Commission in Abuja on Sunday. “Her next-of-kin has been notified. We are engaging with the Nigerian authorities, and we understand an investigation is underway.”
“Faye was an inspiration to her family, friends, students and work colleagues. Her bravery and her belief in a better society took her to places others feared. We are so proud of who she was and of everything she achieved in her short life.” Mooney’s family later told UK Guardian.
Police Commissioner, Ahmad Abdur-Rahman said the management of the resort had failed to seek the usual security cover whenever such tourists events were being held, especially for people coming outside Kaduna state or foreigners. He assured families of those kidnapped that they would soon be released.
Matthew, 23, was an agriculture graduate of Landmark University, Kwara state and PGD Public Administration and Policy graduate of the University of Maiduguri, Borno state, all in Nigeria. He wrote about himself as being an “aspiring agricultural social entrepreneur.” His family were unavailable for comments.
“I condemn the killing of British aid worker, Faye Mooney, and her Nigerian partner, Matthew Oguche two days ago in Kaduna State. Several other Nigerians were kidnapped during the episode.” Said Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former Vice President in a statement on Monday.
Atiku, who was also the major opposition candidate in Nigeria’s February 23 polls, said “I want the government and people of the United Kingdom to know that these atrocious actions do not reflect Nigeria’s national character. I make an urgent call for the federal and state authorities to track down the culprits and make them pay for their crimes.”
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