Ibrahim Mailafiya was killed despite handing over his belongings
Ibrahim Mailafiya was killed despite handing over his belongings
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A computer expert who had just completed his doctorate at Leeds University was killed by an armed gang days after arriving in Nigeria.

Ibrahim Mailafiya, 44, was shot dead by robbers despite complying with their demands to hand over his belongings.

Three weeks ago a British hostage died in Nigeria. Some reports say he succumbed to illness and others that he was shot.

Dr Mailafiya had spent five years at Leeds studying for an MSc in computing and completing his PhD thesis. He had returned to Nigeria to take up a position as head of the computer science department at Nasarawa State University in Keffi, near Abuja. Dr Brandon Bennett, a lecturer at Leeds University’s school of computing, said: “I remember he was very keen to study with us. He approached me directly and explained the ideas he had.

“His research was a very practical piece of work about whether artificial intelligence and machine learning could be used to find mineral deposits in Nigeria. He was good company, a respectful and good natured person, as well as being very persistent in his research; he really believed in what he was doing. My thoughts are with his family.” Dr Mailafiya was on his way to Kano in the north when he was killed. His sister, Teemah Yusuph, wrote on Facebook: “My brother died earlier today on his way to Kano. He was shot by armed robbers.”


Dr Mailafiya’s friend Ismail Usman described the killers as “animalistic armed robbers”. Mr Usman, who knew him from school, said: “Baba was passionate about Nigeria and kept reminding me why Nigeria needed its talents, encouraging me to consider returning and working in Nigeria. It’s terribly sad that Baba lost his life doing what he believed in and has encouraged others to do — that is returning to Nigeria to share his talents and contribute to its development.”

The Government College at Keffi, where Dr Mailafiya had been a student, said he had been killed “after his encounter with a gang of armed robbers who shot him dead on the Kaduna- Kano road even after complying with their demands”.

The British hostage who died in Nigeria was Ian Squire, 57, an optician from Shepperton in Surrey. He was abducted along with a Cambridgeshire GP, David Donovan, and his wife, Shirley, both 57, and Alanna Carson, 23, an optician, who were all back in the UK last night. They were undertaking medical work for a charity in the impoverished Niger Delta in the south. The Foreign Office said Mr Squire was “tragically killed” but declined to give further details. Sources in the security industry and close to the Nigerian government have told The Times that they understood he had died in a rescue operation.

Local media outlets reported that Mr Squire was asthmatic and diabetic and died after being forced to leave behind his medication when he was snatched during the night on October 13. “Squire was not killed by the militants,” a security source told Punch, a Nigerian newspaper. “He died while in captivity around a bush within Bayelsa and Delta states. It’s an unfortunate situation.”

Mr Squire, a devout Christian who is survived by a wife and two adult sons, was a regular visitor to Nigeria and other parts of Africa after founding his charity Mission for Vision 14 years ago.