The fate of American Missionary Rev. Phyllis Sortor, a Washington state native, who was kidnapped by five unidentified armed men from The Hope Academy compound in Kogi State, Nigeria on Monday February 23, 2015 is still in the air.
The five men, three of whom were masked, jumped the missionary school’s wall around 10:30 a.m. They fired gun shots in the air to frighten away rescuers. Sortor had just returned from a trip to Emiworo town where she attended a meeting to acquire more land for a farm project. She was standing with two female students inside the compound of Hope Academy when the kidnappers grabbed her, scaled the wall and fled into the surrounding mountainous area according to Kogi state police commissioner Mr. Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi.
Sortor, a missionary with the Free Methodist Church in Seattle has been in Nigeria for the past ten years. She is an administrator of Hope Academy and the Hope extension school at Ikot Ntuk. She teaches at the modular Bible school and Wesley Evangelical School of Theology (WEST) and supports Community Health Evangelism and area women’s literacy projects according to her biography on the church’s website.
A team of police officers and soldiers were deployed by authorities to search for her. The U.S. Embassy in Nigeria and the FBI were notified of the incident, the Free Methodist Church said.
On Tuesday February 24th, the kidnappers telephoned the Superintendent of the Free Methodist Missionary church, Mr. Mathius Emenike, to make their first ransom demand of N60 million ($300,000) for the safe return of Sortor. By Wednesday, they had slashed their ransom in half to N30 million ($150,000) according to local reports.
Although there was initial fear she might have been abducted by Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic group, the ransom demand seemed to indicate that a local gang was responsible. Mark Schroeder of the global intelligence firm Stratfor told Fox News, “That’s not big money if you are a trans-national jihadist.”“It could be some local gang desperate for cash. Or presidential elections are coming up and this could have been a quick way for a group to extort money basically for rigging an election,” he explained.
Sortor’s stepson, Richard Sortor, told the station “she’s doing God’s work” and the news of her kidnapping is “surreal, just surreal, I can’t believe this.”
Let us keep Sortor, the kidnapped Chibok girls and other kidnap victims all over the world in our prayers. We pray for their safe return, in Jesus’ name.
May Olusola is the Founder and Publisher of MannaEXPRESS.