Villagers in their large numbers began combing the environs of Emiworo, a settlement under Ajaokuta Local government area, near Lokoja in Kogi state, Nigeria in serious search of the kidnapped missionary Rev. Phyllis Sortor, a local said on Tuesday.
An eyewitness resident in Emiworo told SavidNews that the set of gunmen attacked the school and immediately kidnapped Rev. Sortor, an American woman working as a Christian missionary in Nigeria, who is the proprietress of private school, Hope Alive Nursery/Primary School was kidnapped at the school premises at about 10:00am on Monday morning.
“She just returned from a trip and came to the School that yesterday morning. All of a sudden we just saw some people with guns jumping into the fenced compound of the school in Emiworo. And immediately took her away,” the eyewitness informed SavidNews.
“We immediately ran after the gunmen including the police who were blowing sirens since yesterday before the soldiers joined us in the search. But, up till now we are yet to find her,” he said.
Reports had that Rev. Sortor has a grazing land for Fulani herdsmen, established to help end crisis that had occurred between farm owners and herdsmen in the region. She also has a non-governmental organisation in the state.
A Bishop of the Free Methodist World Missions, David Kendall, in a statement on the Church’s website on Monday called for prayer for Rev. Sortor.
“The U.S. Embassy has been notified, and the State Department and the FBI are working with local authorities to find and rescue her. We are calling on the U.S. church to join together in prayer for Phyllis’ safety and speedy release,” the statement read.
In a related development, the state’s police public relations officer, Sola Collins Adebayo, who confirmed the incident and eyewitness report, said the American was abducted at about 10.00am on Monday.
He said, “The woman was kidnapped by unknown gunmen who came through the hill at the back of the school owed by the woman in Emiworo in Ajaokuta local council.
“After she was forcefully pulled out from her office they scaled over the fence with her and went through the hill with her.
“Her whereabouts is yet to be known but the police personnel have deployed to secure the children of the school (Hope Alive Nursery/Primary School).”