Staff, Pupils Of Hope Academy Worry Over Kidnapped American
THE staff and pupils of Hope Academy have been worried over the abduction of 87-year-old American missionary, who is also the proprietress of the school.
The school’s serene environment, which used to bubble with the less privileged Fulani children, was thrown into mournful mood soon after the hoodlums caused a pandemonium with gun shots before kidnapping the American.
The enthusiastic students, who came to school that fateful Monday morning prepared to learn new things for the week, were thrown in to confusion, when they heard the gunshots.
They all scampered for safety, as they ran helter skelter in their confusion until the Head mistress mustered enough courage to lead them through the exit to escape into the village.
Shaibu Roseline Ojone, the school principal said the abductors contacted them the following day, a Tuesday using their captive to demand for N60m. But following the inability of the church to raise the amount, have reduced the ransom to N30m.
Collaborating the principal’s statement, Mathias Emenike, the Superintendent of the church said he received the call, when it came through the Resident pastor’s wife’s phone.
According to him, the abducted missionary, Rev. Phyllinx Sogor sounded distressed on the phone, begging him to source for the money to facilitate her freedom.
Emenike, however, indicated that the church couldn’t raise such amount because it doesn’t have it.
The superintendent explained that the school was basically established to assist the less privileged, especially the nomadic Fulani’s children to encourage them access Western education. And though they don’t really operate a boarding house, the Fulani children were gathered from around Kwara State and are kept in the boarding house.
He explained that the school has a population of about 400 pupils spread across nursery, primary, and junior secondary school.
And being a missionary school, it is essentially not profit making. So, the school depends mainly on charity from members of the church.
“On the fateful Monday February 23, 2015, I was in my office between the hour of 10am and 11 am, when I started hearing gun shots. I tried to peep through the window, but I couldn’t see anything. So, I quickly ran out of the office only to see the pupils in disarray, scampering for safety with many of them crying and wailing.
“I was confused because I did not know what was happening, my mind went to the Boko Haram sect. So, I ran towards where we have an exit and I started calling on the pupils to escape through there,” she narrated to The Guardian.
Ojone said she kept calling on the children until the last of them had escaped and she escorted them over the bridge so that they could run into the village. But she had to return to the school compound after learning that the hoodlums made away with Mama Phillips.
“I was totally devastated, as I heard that six gunmen in black with mask over their faces took her away over the fence into the forest. Immediately, I started shouting to draw the attention of the people around for assistance. It was not long when men of the Nigeria Police came showed up,” she recalled.
The kidnappers, who invaded Emiworo, a village in Ajaokuta local government area at about 10 am on Monday, where the missionary runs a nursery/primary school, forcefully pulled her out of office and scaled the fence before taking her away through the hills into a thick forest behind the school.
Her assistant, pastor Jacob Ahiaba, who confirmed the incident, said he was at a meeting with the woman, when the gunmen suddenly jumped over the fence from nearby bush into the church premises with hoods covering their faces. They had ordered them to lie face down on the ground.
“I saw them taking the woman away and when I asked why, one of them hit me on the head with the butt of the gun. After that, everything became dark and I did not know what transpired afterwards. I regained consciousness much later to the stark reality that mama had been taken away to an unknown destination.
“They took her over the fence into the bush and up till now, we have not seen her. We later alerted the police,” he said.
The superintendent of the church, Rev. Mathias Emenike said it was shocking that a missionary, doing the Lord’s work for humanity could be so cruelly treated.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Sola Collins Adebayo confirmed the incident and disclosed that their men have secured the school. He said the Command has appealed to the villagers to assist the police with useful information that can lead to their arrest.
Reacting to the incidence, Captain Idris Wada, Kogi State governor condemned in strong term the kidnapping of the American missionary by the yet-to-be identified gunmen.
In a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Jacob Edi, the governor said the act was barbaric and un-godly. He urged the security agencies in the state to leave no stone unturned to ensure that those behind the dastardly act were brought to book.
The police authority in the state confirmed the incident and vowed to fish out those behind the incident.
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