Waiting anxiously for Sortor’s return
• Monarch, community eager to meet American octogenarian missionary after her release
IT was jubilation galore in Emiworo, a suburb in Ajaokuta local government area of Kogi State at the weekend, when news filtered in that the 71-year-old missionary, Phyllis Sortor, kidnapped last month has been released.
The United States-based Free Methodist Church had on Friday announced the release of Sortor into the care of authorities and church leaders. Bishop David Kendall said in a statement on the church’s website that Sortor “was aware there were risks associated with her ministry, but also knew there are very few places in the world without risks and dangers.”
Sortor, who was abducted from the Hope Academy compound in Emiwroro, Kogi state, had been instrumental in establishing schools in Kogi for the children of Fulani herdsmen.
However, it was an eager community that anxiously awaited the triumphant return of the missionary back to Emiworo on Sunday, The Guardian observed.
The anticipated apprehension was expressed by the traditional ruler of Emiworo, Alhaji Saidu Abdullahi, who said the community is eager to see the octogenarian return to continue her missionary work.
Abdullahi said on Sunday that he was waiting with his subjects to give Sortor a deserved welcome after her ordeal in the hands of her captors, but were disappointed when they were told she was taken to Abuja.
On February 23, 2015, some gunmen attacked the school, whisked the proprietress away and later contacted the Freeman Methodist Church to pay N60 million as ransom.
The royal father said since she was abducted, nobody was happy because it was like a stigma that has hung over the community and its people. “My people prayed and fasted in the churches and mosques for her release. When the news filtered in that she had been released, the entire community erupted with jubilation.”
He said the only snag was the fact that for three days after her release, they have not seen the woman as they were informed that she was still in Abuja.
He said he would not want to contemplate any notion that she would not return again because of the great work she has done through the Hope Academy School she started. “The school is the lifewire of our community because education is life.”
He said the community would be in pain if the aged woman decides not to come back due to the unfortunate incident, adding that she had contributed to the educational development of numerous under-privileged children in the area.
He admonished the Federal Government to up the ante against incessant kidnapping, robbery and terrorism in the country.
According to the Superintendent of the Pioneer Conference of Free Methodist Church, Rev. Mathias Emenike, Sortor was dropped off around 8.30pm by a motorcyclist at an isolated area near the village. He added that a man and a woman later saw her and raised the alarm, after which the police were contacted.
The police, he said, later took her to a safe custody. Emenike added that the Kogi State governor, Captain Idris Wada, who was eagerly waiting to receive the American missionary, was also disappointed the woman was whisked away to Abuja on the instruction of the security high command.
The community’s paramount ruler, further called on the Nigeria Police Force to establish a police post in the community, stressing that the crime in the village is gradually becoming higher than what the community vigilante group can handle due to the sophisticated arms in the hands of the criminals.
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