I was brutalized • 5 Suspects in Police custody
The father of Chelsea and Nigeria star John Mikel Obi was Monday found alive in Kano State. Michael Obi was last seen on 12 August in the city of Jos, where his car was found last Wednesday.
Obi Senior told the BBC that he had been kidnapped in Jos before being transferred to Kano.
“I am very stressed,” he said.
His abductors are now in police custody in the northern Nigerian city.
The BBC’s Yusuf Ibrahim Yakasai says Michael Obi’s face shows signs of the beatings that he says he endured during his ordeal.
During the time of his father’s disappearance, Mikel Obi continued playing for Chelsea – starting matches against both Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion.
“I wouldn’t want to let the club down and if I didn’t play that game I think my mum would be very sad,” the 24-year-old said after playing against Stoke.
On Friday, Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas hailed the “amazing mental toughness” shown by the midfielder in the wake of his father’s kidnapping.
Police spokesman Olusola Amore told The Associated Press that detectives found Michael Obi in Kano. Amore said police arrested those suspected in the kidnapping.
Michael Obi was kidnapped on Aug. 12 while on his way home from work in the central Nigerian city of Jos.
Kidnappings for ransom regularly occur in Nigeria, though typically in its east and oil-rich southern delta.
Nigeria, an oil-rich country of 150 million people, is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. Plateau state, in Nigeria’s fertile central belt, has seen thousands die in recent years in religious and ethnic violence rooted largely in political and economic issues.
Mikel’s family, from the Igbo tribe, is in the minority in the area. However, John Obi Mikel said the kidnapping shocked him because his family never had any problems there before.
Kidnappings in Plateau state are a rarity when compared to Nigeria’s oil-producing southern delta, where militants and criminal gangs often kidnap foreigners for ransom. Middle class Nigerian families also increasingly find themselves targeted in the country’s East as well.
It isn’t the first time a football player’s family has been targeted in Nigeria. In 2008, gunmen abducted the younger brother of Everton defender Joseph Yobo as he left a nightclub in Port Harcourt, the delta’s largest city.
The brother was released unharmed about two weeks later, though it was unclear if a ransom had been paid. Enyimba Chairman, Felix Anyansi-Agwu was equally kidnapped and released. Mother of former NFF President, Sani Lulu-Abdullahi was also kidnapped and released.
Michael Obi’s abduction came after a Forbes magazine survey in June listed Mikel as the seventh highest-paid African player in Europe. The magazine listed Mikel’s salary as $5.8 million a year.
Mikel thanks all!
Super Eagles midfielder, John Mikel Obi has spoken of his relief after hearing that his father, Michael Obi had been found in Kano.
Obi Senior was last seen on 12 August in the city of Jos, where his car was found last Wednesday but hardworking Police operatives Monday secured the freedom of Mikel’s father.
And in a quick reaction to the cheery news from Nigeria, Mikel’s management company confirmed that the Chelsea man had contacted his family to share in the joy of their father’s release.
Mikel has also expressed his gratitude to everyone who supported his family during the trying times.
Earlier today(yesterday) Michael Obi called his family to advise them that he had been released by his abductors,” Sport Entertainment & Media Group (SEM) said in a statement.
“SEM have waited until now to release this information, to ensure that Michael was safe.
“John Obi Mikel would like to thank everyone in Nigeria, his family and friends, Chelsea FC and their fans and his agents for their total support during this terrible time.”
The Nigeria Football Federation Monday said the release of Mikel’s father came as a great relief to both the Obi family and the NFF.
In reaction to the news last night, chief media officer of the federation, Ademola Olajire said, “we are very very happy over this development. It is a sign of good things to come as we prepare for the crucial 2012 CAN qualifier against Madagascar.
It is good for the psyche of the boy and the entire team. We are happy,” Olajire said.