Obi Mikel’s Father Rescued After Abduction Just Before Nigeria, Argentina World Cup Game

by Samuel Abasi Posted on July 3rd, 2018

John Obi Mikel played in Nigeria’s World Cup loss to Argentina despite having just been told his father was being held for ransom and would be shot “instantly” if he alerted the authorities. The 31-year-old, who broke a bone in his hand in the 2-0 win over Iceland, opted not to tell teammates through fear of affecting their focus on their crucial Group D match with Argentina.

Mikel revealed on Tuesday he had received a call four hours before kick off in his country’s final Group D game from abductors demanding 10 million Nigerian naira (£21,100) for the safe return of Pa Michael Obi.

The Nigeria captain and former Chelsea midfielder Mikel kept quiet about the news, which was only revealed almost a week later when Enugu State Police announced on Monday night that his father had been rescued earlier that day.

Pa Michael Obi was en route to a funeral in southeastern Nigeria when he was abducted June 26; he and his driver were rescued Monday by police.

In a statement, Superintendent of Police Ebere Amaraizu said described the rescue. “The abductors started calling to demand a ransom of N10 million before police operatives acted on intelligence information and swooped on them. In the process of the rescue, a gun duel ensued between police operatives and the abductors which forced the hoodlums to abandon their victims inside the forest and they were promptly rescued.”

The Enugu State Police described him as “hale and hearty” despite the ordeal:

“Our men have rescued Pa Michael Obi, the father of the Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi. He was abducted along Markurdi – Enugu expressway but we rescued him today 2nd July, 2018 around 14:00hrs at Egede in Udi LGA of Enugu State.”

Mikel’s father was then reportedly hospitalised following his rescue, with his son considering flying him out of the country for further treatment.

Speaking about last week’s abduction for the first time, the Nigeria captain said: “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 was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody.

“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.”

“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.

“I was emotionally distraught but had to make a decision about whether I was mentally ready to play the game.

“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.”

Astonishingly, this was the second time Mikel had played a game after being told his father had been abducted, the first being almost seven years earlier in a Premier League match between Chelsea and Stoke City. During this time, he started two games for Chelsea.

He even made a televised plea in that earlier incident for the safe return of his father, who was found alive just over a week later.

An adviser to the player reportedly said that security around the family will be ramped up.

 

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

A computer programmer who is also very proficient with hardware, Sam follows sports, science and tech news and everything else in between with an unrivaled passion that keeps readers coming back. Sam is also proficient in use of most online journalism tools and Social media management
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