KIDNAPPINGS ARE A relatively common occurrence in Nigeria, and it appears that Chelsea’s Mikel John Obi has become the latest victim of the practice.
Reports suggest that the midfielder’s father was abducted on Wednesday 10 August. Obi himself was only informed of the incident yesterday, just prior to Chelsea’s game with Stoke, during which he subsequently played.
Speaking to the Guardian’s Dominic Fifield, the player’s agent, John Ola Shittu, outlined the circumstances under which he was forced to break the news to the 24-year-old:
“He is totally devastated. We were not sure whether to tell him before the game. But after speaking to the manager [André Villas-Boas], and [the Chelsea sporting director] Mike Emenalo, we agreed that he had a right to be informed of such a serious incident. He was under a lot of stress, but he showed a lot of character and mental strength to play against Stoke.”
Though the family is “hopeful” Obi Sr. will be found safe and unharmed, kidnappings of this nature are not unprecedented. The brother of Everton defender Joseph Yobo was similarly targeted in 2008. He was released less than a fortnight after his abduction, but it’s unknown whether or not a ransom was paid.
A statement from SEM, Mikel’s management company, read:
“SEM confirms that client John Obi Mikel’s father was abducted in Nigeria on Friday, 10 August. Thus far no ransom (demand) has been received. Mikel was informed by his manager prior to the Stoke v Chelsea match and decided to play so as not to let down his team and family.”