Nigeria Captain, John Obi Mikel, has revealed that he received a distressing phone call on June 26, hours before Nigeria faced off Argentina in the final group stage match in this year’s World Cup.
Mr Mikel said his father, Pa Michael Obi, had been kidnapped and that he had to pay a N10 million (Ksh2.8 million) ransom to secure his release.
The kidnappers instructed the former Chelsea midfielder not to share the news with anyone; and threatened to shoot Mr Obi in case authorities were informed.
Pa Michael Obi was abducted together with his driver along the Makurdi – Enugu highway on his way to a funeral in South Eastern Nigeria.
KweséESPN reports that Pa Michael Obi and his driver were rescued by Nigeria police force late Monday July 2 at Egede, near Udi in Enugu State after the police engaged in a gun duel with the kidnappers.
“In the process of the rescue, a gun duel ensued between police operatives and the kidnappers which forced the kidnappers to abandon their victims inside the forest and they were promptly rescued,” said Superintendent of Police, Ebere Amaraizu.
The two, Mr Obi and his driver, were rushed to an Enugu State hospital for further check up and treatment after the tormenting experience.
In an interview with KweséESPN, Obi Mikels said that he was confused after receiving the distressing call.
He did not report the matter to the Nigeria Football Federation nor to his coach Gernot Rohr.
He, instead, put up with the trauma while playing against Argentina.
Nigeria lost 2-1 to a late Marcus Rojo goal to exit the tournament.
“I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first. I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody,” said Obi Mikel.
“And I did not want to discuss it with the coach because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to the coach or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game. So as much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not do it,” he added.
It is the second time that Obi Mikel’s father has been kidnapped, with the first one being in 2011, where he was released after 10 days.