Friday, August 19, 2011

John Mikel Obi pleads with kidnappers

Super Eagles and Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi, whose father was abducted last Friday in Jos has appealed to Nigerians to help find his father.

He also pleaded with the would-be kidnappers to release his father, even as he also appealed for information on the whereabout of his father.

Mikel said he and his family are yet to hear anything regarding his father's whereabouts or who might have taken him, and he made a direct appeal for his father's release.

"Please just let him go," he said. "He's just an old man, he hasn't done any harm to anyone as far as I know and I don't know why he has been taken."

With no contact made and no ransom demand yet received, Mikel is seeking information and help from anyone who can provide it.

"Nigeria is the country I am from, I have always tried to help the country in every way I can, playing for the country, serving the country. This is the time for the country to help me in this situation," Mikel told Sky Sports News. "I am just going to say, whoever has got my dad, whoever knows where my dad is, should please contact me and hopefully he should be released."

His father's transport company, M.C. Obi Transport, was deserted on Monday when our correspondent visited.

It was graveyard silence at the company on Monday as passengers could not be sported at the premises except few staffs on duty.

The company did not operate any scheduled service since Saturday when the matter was reported to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Plateau State Police command.

He was said to have left office at about 6 pm with his own car but did not reach home.

"We called him through out Friday, but his phone was ringing without reply and by Saturday, it was not going through at all again," one of his staffs who pleaded anonymity to Daily independent on Monday. Attempts to reach Mikel's mother was unsuccessful as at press time.

However, Plateau state Police Commissioner, Emmanuel Dipo Ayeni, told The Associated Press that Michael Obi disappeared from the state capital Jos on Friday. Ayeni said he had no other details.

"We are still searching to find his location," Ayeni said.

Nigeria Police spokesman, Olusola Amore, said no one had seen Mikel's father since 6 p.m. Friday, when he left work to return home.

London-based Sport Entertainment & Media Group, Mikel's management company, said no ransom demand had been made. It said Chelsea was looking at "security issues" after the abduction.

"Mikel was informed by his manager prior to the Stoke tie against Chelsea and decided to play so as not to let down his team and family," the media group said on Twitter.

Mikel has played with Chelsea since 2006. He previously played for Nigerian Premier League club Plateau United, Nigeria's Under-20 squad and Norwegian club Lyn.

"We will give Mikel and his family our full support at this most difficult time," Chelsea said on its website.

Jos, Plateau state capital where Mikel's father resides, has witnessed thousands death in recent years in religious and ethnic violence rooted largely in political and economic issues.

However, Mikel said the kidnapping shocked him because his family never had any problems there before.

"I have always thought one day something like this can happen, but where my family lives is a very secure and safe place," he said.

Kidnappings in Plateau state are a rarity when compared to Nigeria's oil-rich 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 soccer 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.

Michael Obi's abduction comes 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.

Daily Independent

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