The family of Faye Mooney, a 29-year-old British aid worker killed in Kaduna by kidnappers, have paid tribute to her bravery and belief in societal change that “took her to places others feared”.
Two people including a British aid worker were shot dead and four tourists abducted in an attack by armed gunmen on a holiday resort in northwestern Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
Police and aid agency Mercy Corps named the dead woman as Faye Mooney.
Mooney’s family told the Guardian that she was a bright and intelligent woman with a “deep love for life and people” who had never been happier.
“She was on holiday with her boyfriend Matthew Oguche,” they said. “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. Faye did what she wanted; nothing held her back.
“Permanently against the grain, Faye was unconventional to the core. Her family and friends are so proud of who she was and of everything she achieved in her short but purposeful life. Her memory will always be cherished.
“Faye was a dedicated and passionate communications and learning specialist”, Chief executive Neal Keny-Guyer said in a statement posted on social media, adding that colleagues were “utterly heartbroken”.
Mooney had “worked with Mercy Corps for almost two years, devoting her time to making a difference in Nigeria”, Keny-Guyer added.
Gunmen stormed the Kajuru Castle resort, 60 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of Kaduna City at 11.40 pm (2240 GMT) on Friday, Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo told reporters.
The Briton “was gunned down from the hill by the kidnappers who tried to gain entrance into the castle but failed”, Sabo said.
“They took away about five other locals but one person escaped,” he said.
A Nigerian man believed by local residents in Kajuru to be Mooney’s partner was also killed in the attack on the resort where a group of 13 tourists had arrived from Lagos, southwest Nigeria the police spokesman said.
In Kaduna and the wider northwest region, kidnapping for ransom has become an increasingly rampant, particularly on the road to the capital, Abuja, where armed attacks have thrived.
Kidnapping in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted.
Yet the problem has escalated in northern areas too, like Kaduna where criminal gangs made up of former cattle rustlers have been pushed into kidnapping after military crackdowns on cattle theft.
Kajuru is also flash point in the deadly conflict over increasingly limited land resources in Africa’s most populous country, between herders and farmers, predominantly across central and northern Nigeria.
The conflict has increasingly taken on ethnic and religious dimensions in the region, with the Fulani Muslim herders in conflict with Christian Adara farmers in Kajuru.
Tourists are rarely affected by the herder-farmer violence and Kajuru Castle resort has attracted many foreign and local visitors.
Yet police have struggled to thwart kidnappers in the region. The latest attack comes in a resort in northern Nigeria, particularly popular amongst foreign and well-to-do local tourists.
In January four western tourists — two Americans and two Canadians — were also abducted in Kaduna by gunmen in an ambush in which two of their police escorts were killed.
Earlier in April, recently re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered his most senior security chiefs to curb kidnapping in the region.