16th August, 2011
Police in Plateau State, North central Nigeria, say they will do everything to find the missing father of the Super Eagles and Chelsea of Londonâ€™ midfielder, John Mikel Obi.
Mikelâ€™s dad, Michael Obi, was abducted in his homeland last Friday, but no ransom demand has been made.
Nigerian police confirmed Mikelâ€™s dad had been reported as missing, but could not yet provide details, including whether there were any witnesses. The police said that decisive action has been taken to ensure that Obi is found within a short period of time.
â€œThe case of the man was reported to us on Saturday morning,â€ Emmanuel Ayeni, Police Commissioner for Plateau State, told AFP.
He said police had raised â€œa crack team of detectives to look for the man,â€ stressing that it was â€œpremature to advance any motive for the abduction.â€ Ayeni said no one had claimed responsibility.
â€œWe are seriously on the lookout for Mr. Obi. We appeal to anyone with useful information on his whereabouts to contact the security agencies,â€ Ayeni said.
Meanwhile, public condemnation has continued to trail the missing of Mikelâ€™s dad. Reacting to the unfortunate incident yesterday, Chelsea released a statement saying: “Everyone at Chelsea Football Club was very concerned to hear that John Mikel Obiâ€™s father has been reported as missing and possibly abducted. We will give Mikel and his family our full support at this most difficult time.â€
Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, is also worried about the sad incident, describing it as unfortunate and uncalled for if it ended up another case of kidnapping which has been rocking the nation in the past few years.
First vice president of the federation, Chief Mike Umeh, said the football house is liaising with the countryâ€™s security agencies to ensure that Mikelâ€™s dad is found.
â€œWe are in constant touch with the security operatives. All we can do right now is to urge all Nigerians to pray for the old man and Mikel because the player is in a terrible situation right now,â€ he said.
Also, former coach of the Super Eagles and FIFA instructor, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, said it is sad to know that Mikel that has done so much for the country is being targeted for this type of inhuman act.
â€œI want to plead to those that are holding the man against his wish that they should please release Mikelâ€™s dad and let him return to his family,â€ Onigbinde said.
Jos has been hit by waves of clashes between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups that have left hundreds dead in recent years, but kidnappings have not been known to occur there.
Scores of abductions have occurred in the oil-producing Niger Delta region in the countryâ€™s south by criminal gangs seeking ransom payments or militants claiming to be fighting for a fairer distribution of oil revenue. A government amnesty deal in 2009 greatly reduced unrest and kidnappings in the delta.
Mikel is not the first Premier League player to have a family member go missing in Nigeria, Africaâ€™s most populous nation and the continentâ€™s largest oil producer.
In July 2008, the elder brother of Everton defender Joseph Yobo was kidnapped in the oil city of Port Harcourt, the capital of the southern Rivers State in the Niger Delta.
Nornu Yobo was released after 10 days but it was never made clear whether a ransom was paid.