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Police trail killers of Nigerian man, Matthew and his British girlfriend

Police said Matthew and Faye were killed at a Kaduna resort. Bandits demand $165,000 for three others kidnapped

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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.”

Matthew Danjuma Oguche

“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.

Faye Mooney

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 Danjuma Oguche

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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Robert Mugabe’s burial begins in his hometown

Hundreds of mourners assembled for the low-key event, which was initially intended to be a private family ceremony.

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Robert Mugabe's burial begins in his hometown

The family of former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe gathered in his rural homestead on Saturday, three weeks after his death, to attend a much-awaited burial ceremony in the village of Kutama.

Mugabe died in a Singapore hospital on September 6, aged 95, almost two years after a military coup ended his despotic 37-year rule.

His remains will be laid to rest in the courtyard of his home in the district of Zvimba, about 90 kilometres (55 miles) west of the capital Harare.

Hundreds of mourners assembled for the low-key event, which was initially intended to be a private family ceremony. 

Many wore white Mugabe-emblazoned T-shirts with the slogans “founding father”, “liberator” and “torch bearer.”

Some were singing and dancing. Others sat quietly under two white tents set up for the occasion.

Mugabe’s widow Grace and his children accompanied the casket — drapped in Zimbabwe’s green, yellow, red and black flag.

No senior government officials were among the audience. 

The Mugabe family decided to bury Zimbabwe’s founding father in Kutama after weeks of wrangling with the government, who wanted the body to rest at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

A mausoleum was being constructed at the site, which is reserved for heroes of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

Former guerilla leader Mugabe took power after independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Initially hailed as a pan-African liberator, Mugabe’s rule became increasingly repressive as he cracked down on his political opponents.

Mugabe was toppled by his formerly loyal army generals in 2017.

Many in Mugabe’s family are bitter over his ouster and the role played by his deputy and successor Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was elected president in 2018.

Zimbabwe remains deeply split over his legacy.

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African leaders pay last respects to Mugabe at state funeral

African leaders and senior officials from Cuba, Russia and China all praised Mugabe as a pan-African hero

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African leaders pay last respects to Mugabe at state funeral

Zimbabwe gave former president Robert Mugabe a state funeral on Saturday with African leaders paying tribute to a man lauded as a liberation hero but whose 37-year rule was defined by repression and economic turmoil.

Mugabe, who died in Singapore last week aged 95, left Zimbabwe deeply torn over his legacy as the country still struggles with high inflation and shortages of goods after decades of crisis.

He died on an overseas medical trip almost two years after former army loyalists forced him out in 2017, following a power struggle over what was widely perceived as a bid to position his wife Grace as his successor.

Mugabe’s casket, draped in the green, black, gold and red Zimbabwe flag, was marched slowly into Harare’s national stadium as a military band played and crowds chanted and drummed, though less than half of the 60,000 seats appeared taken.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma (L) bows on September 14, 2019 as he says a final farewell at the casket of late Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe during a farewell ceremony held for family and heads of state at the National Sports Stadium in Harare. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP)

African leaders and senior officials from Cuba, Russia, and China all praised Mugabe as a pan-African hero for his past as a colonial-era guerrilla leader.

“We honour and remember our African icon. He had many allies and followers… Our motherland is in tears,” Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said. 

African leaders pay last respects to Mugabe at state funeral
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (L) shakes hands with Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa upon his arrival to attend a farewell ceremony for late Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (Photo by Zinyange Auntony / AFP)

Doves were released over the stadium before soldiers fired a 21-gun salute from artillery cannon.

Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally who turned against him, praised Grace in a signal of reconciliation and called for sanctions on Zimbabwe to be lifted in the post-Mugabe era. 

“We say give our country a rebirth and a new start. Remove the sanctions now, we don’t deserve them.”

South African leader Ramaphosa’s speech was briefly interrupted by jeers and whistles from the crowds until he apologised for recent xenophobic attacks on African migrants, including Zimbabweans, in Johannesburg.

Bitter legacy

As a former anti-colonial rebel, Mugabe is credited with helping to end white-minority rule in Zimbabwe.

But his nearly four-decade rule was marked by repression, the brutal silencing of dissent and violent seizure of white-owned farms, making him an international pariah.

Though still lauded as an African icon, at home many Zimbabweans will remember Mugabe more for the increasingly tyrannical rule and economic mismanagement that forced millions to flee the country.

Many are struggling to survive despite Mnangagwa’s vows of more investment and jobs in the post-Mugabe era.

“The fruits of his tenure are the shortages. That is what we remember him for,” said Steven, a consultant shopping near the stadium.

“He has made sure there is no opposition and he succeeded. There is no reason to go to his funeral.”

Friends and enemies

A young Mugabe was once jailed in the former British colony Rhodesia for his nationalist ideas. But he swept to power in the 1980 elections after a guerrilla war and sanctions forced the Rhodesian government to the negotiating table.

In office, he initially won international praise for promoting racial reconciliation and for extending improved education and health services to the black majority.

“You can’t talk about Zimbabwe without Bob. Zimbabwe is Bob. It took a man like Bob, his bravery, to get independence,” said Norman Gombera, 57, a school principal in Harare. “Bob did his best under the circumstances. There is no country without a problem.”

Always divisive in life, Mugabe’s funeral arrangements were also caught up in a dispute between Mnangagwa and the family over where and when the former leader should be buried.

His final burial at a national monument will only happen after a new mausoleum is built in about 30 days. That decision was taken after his family ended a dispute with Mnangagwa over the date and place of the ceremony.

His family are still bitter over the role Mnangagwa played in his ouster and had pushed for Mugabe to be buried in his homestead of Zvimba, northwest of Harare.

A former guerrilla who fought alongside Mugabe against colonial forces, Mnangagwa was fired as first vice president by Mugabe in 2017. Mugabe had branded him a “traitor”.

Soon after, protesters took to the streets and military officers pressured Mugabe to step down in what was widely seen as a struggle between Mnangagwa’s faction and loyalists to Mugabe’s wife Grace inside the ruling ZANU-PF party. 

Mnangagwa himself is now under pressure to deliver in the post-Mugabe period.

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Death toll from capsized Cameroon ferry rises to 17

So far, 111 survivors have been rescued, according to state radio and a local leader

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Death toll from capsized Cameroon ferry rises to 17

The death toll from a Cameroon ferry that capsized this week has risen to 17 after more bodies were found, state radio said Wednesday, though the total number of victims was still unknown.

Fourteen more bodies were recovered from the Bakassi Peninsula on Tuesday, two days after the ferry sunk off southwestern Cameroon, Cameroon Radio Television reported.

A source with local authorities confirmed the details to reporters.

State media had initially reported that three victims — of Cameroonian, Nigerian and French nationality — were found and more than 100 people were rescued when the ship went down overnight Sunday to Monday.

The Austrheim, a trading vessel converted into a passenger ship was supposed to carry 75 people, but it was “overloaded,” according to a statement from the defence ministry. 

So far, 111 survivors have been rescued, according to state radio and a local leader. Searches continued on Wednesday for survivors or bodies.

The ship left Sunday from Calabar, Nigeria, and was due to dock at Tiko in southwest Cameroon but hit a sandbar before capsizing, according to the ministry.

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