John Obi Mikel, a former Nigerian and Chelsea midfielder, has admitted that he spent a “crazy amount of money” in 2018 to free his father, Pa Michael, from the kidnapper’s hideout.
This was revealed by the football star in a conversation with Dubai Eye 103.8 Sport.
When traveling from Jos in a grey Toyota Prado jeep, Pa Michael Obi and his driver, Ishaya John, were abducted in 2018 along the Markurdi-Enugu route.
Mikel Obi, the captain of the Super Eagles, claimed in 2018 that he learned of his father’s kidnapping four hours before Nigeria’s decisive World Cup match against Argentina.
While riding the team bus to the stadium in St. Petersburg, Mikel recalled getting the unexpected news.
He claimed that a family member had contacted and instructed him to call the kidnappers at a specific number. He was then instructed to pay a ransom.
He continued by saying that even though the news had devastated him, he had to put it behind him in order to play the game.
“I was emotionally distraught and I had to make the decision about whether I was mentally ready to play. 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 could not even inform the coaches or NFF staff and only a very tight circle of my friends knew.
“I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody. I also did not want to discuss it with the coach [Gernot Rohr] because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to him or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game. As much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not,” he said.
However, days after, they were rescued by the police, around 2:30 pm in Egede Udi forest of Enugu State.
“The abductors then started calling the families to demand a ransom of N10 million but the operatives acting on intelligence information swooped on them. A gun duel ensued which forced the hoodlums to abandon their victims inside the forest and they were promptly rescued,” the police said in a statement.
Mikel Obi who bravely led the Super Eagles against Argentina four hours after he spoke with the kidnappers who kidnapped his father.
“They [the kidnappers] said listen, we know, it is Mikel he would pay. If he doesn’t, we are going to shoot his dad. They said they had nothing to lose. They would shoot my dad and dump him somewhere,” Mikel Obi said.
“It was horrible. After the game, I got back on the phone, tried to negotiate with them and spoke with them. They were calling some ridiculous amount of money for a start, and in the end, I still had to pay some crazy amount of money to get my dad out.
“Even now, I still go through it. Even when I got a flashback, I had to speak to the guys on the phone. There was a gunpoint at his head. They said they would shoot him, kill him. I have not told my kids about it, but a few months ago, they looked at my phone and saw the news about it. Obviously, I have not told them about it because they are young kids, 7 years, but one day when they grow up, I will be able to share the story with them,” he said.