Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, says he was informed about his father’s kidnap about four hours before Nigeria’s final World Cup match against Argentina.
Mikel told The Guardian UK that he received the shocking news while travelling on the team bus to the stadium in St Petersburg last Tuesday.
According to him, a family member had called and told him that he had to call the kidnappers on a designated number. After he did so, he was ordered to pay a ransom.
He further explained that although he was distraught by the news, he had to put it aside and play the match.
“I was emotionally distraught and I had to make the decision about whether I was mentally ready to play. I was confused. I did not know what to do but, in the end, I knew that I could not let 180 million Nigerians down. I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first. I could not even inform the coaches or NFF staff and only a very tight circle of my friends knew.
“I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody. I also did not want to discuss it with the coach [Gernot Rohr] because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to him or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game. As much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not,” he said.
His father, Pa Michael Obi was kidnapped along with his driver, Ishaya John, along the Markurdi – Enugu road on Friday afternoon while on their way from Jos in a grey coloured Toyota Prado jeep.
However, days after, they were rescued by the police.
They were rescued on Monday around 2:30 pm in Egede Udi forest of Enugu State.
“The abductors then started calling the families to demand a ransom of N10 million but the operatives acting on intelligence information swooped on them. A gun duel ensued which forced the hoodlums to abandon their victims inside the forest and they were promptly rescued,” the police said in a statement.
In his reaction, Pa Michael Obi extolled the response and efforts of the police which led to their rescue, noting that he is alive and healthy.
Meanwhile, Mikel has also thanked the police for securing the release of his father.
In a post he shared on Instagram Tuesday, he said his father has been reunited with the rest of the family and is now recuperating.
This is not the first time Mikel Obi’s father will be kidnapped.
He was previously kidnapped in Jos in 2011 while he was travelling home from work.