West & Central Africa

Missionary kidnaped by Al Qaeda still alive says Nigerien President

Jeff Woodke, an American missionary, abducted from his home in Abalak, northern region of Niger Republic in West Africa by a terrorist Al Qaeda Islamic terrorist group on 14 October 2016, is still alive says President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger. The President said though he doesn’t have an exact location but “it is more likely that they are in Mali.”

Al Qaeda in Niger

Since his disappearance, there has been no information about Jeff Woodke, who has been working for a local Non-Governmental Organization called Jeunesse en Mission Entraide et Developpement, JEMED, an affiliate of Youth With a Mission, YWAM, and has lived in Niger since 1992, untill the President made the statement last on TV channel France24 week saying Jeff and Joerg Lange, a German aid worker, abducted in Ayorou, a town in western Nigeria in April are alive. “We have some news; we know they’re alive,” Issoufou said on June 4. “We continue to create the conditions for their release. Perhaps the contacts that are underway will help to achieve that goal.” He added.

The Nigerien government has claimed, shortly after Woodke’s disappearance, that the Jeff’s abductors had headed towards Mali yet no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnap.

President Issoufou

Woodke’s wife, Els, had made an appeal in a video in July 2017, for the release and safe return of her husband after the jihadist group, Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, released a video showing six other foreign captives including three foreign missionaries without Woodke in the video.

“I am sure that the families of the captives were very encouraged by this message and appreciated the mercy shown by Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen in sending this news and instructions about their loved ones,” Els Woodke had said. “But my husband Jeff is not mentioned, so I did not receive the benefit of the reassurance and directions of how to proceed that the other families did. This has been very hard for me, for Jeff’s sons and his father to understand,” Els said.

 

Hassan John is west Africa Editor,GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

Image Credits: Google Images/Al Qaeda/Jeff Woodke/ President Issoufou