A British oil worker taken hostage nine months ago in the southern Nigerian swamps has been released. Downing Street confirmed on Friday that militants had freed Matthew Maguire, 35, of Merseyside. His family said he was safe and well.

oil workersMr Maguire, of Merseyside, was among 27 hostages taken from a boat near Port Harcourt last September. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has since released the other hostages. The group revealed in an email that Mr Maguire had been released at a secret location before being moved to Port Harcourt.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed the release in a statement which read: “This news comes a great relief to all concerned. “I am glad that, for Mr Maguire and his family and friends, this ordeal is over.” Bernard Maguire, who lives in Perth, Australia, told the BBC he was “delighted” his son had been freed.

“Matthew’s girlfriend, Emma, received a phone call from him earlier today,” he said on Friday evening. “He’s out now and no harm has come to him, so it’s a relief. Although he’s lost weight, he’s got no other health problems. “We have been waiting a long, long time for this and we have been given so much false hope in the past.”

His son was expected back in the UK on Sunday or Monday, he added. British hostage Robin Hughes, taken from the same boat as Mr Maguire, was released in April because he had fallen sick. The other hostages were released within days.

Hundreds of foreign oil and construction workers – and many more Nigerians – have been kidnapped by militants since 2006. Militants, who say they are fighting for a better share-out of Nigeria’s oil revenue, fund their groups with kidnapping, extortion and oil theft.



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