EVEN years after he was seized by cruel kidnappers, Pa Michael Obi, father of the Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, again had another rough deal in the den of abductors on June 29.
Pa Obi and his driver, John Ishaya, according to the police, were abducted on Makurdi-Enugu Road, while the footballer was on his way from Jos, Plateau State.
Mikel’s father, according to the police, was travelling in his grey coloured Toyota Prado Sports Utility vehicle marked MUS 604CG, when he was kidnapped.
The kidnappers were said to have demanded N10m as ransom from Obi’s family.
They were, however, rescued by the operatives of Enugu State Police Command on Monday July 2, after a shootout with the kidnappers.
In a statement, Enugu Police spokesman, Ebere Amaraizu, said the rescue operation was carried out by men of the Ninth Mile Division of the command in a forest, after a gun battle with the kidnappers.
The suspected kidnappers escaped after being overpowered by the police.
Amaraizu said: “The Enugu State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, through its operatives, rescued Pa Michael Obi and his driver, one Ishaya John, unhurt in Egede Udi forest on Monday, July 2, 2018, around 2.30pm along old Egede-Affa Road, Enugu.
“They were rescued hale and hearty and Pa Michael Obi and the driver have been reunited with their families. “Pa Obi and his driver were abducted along Markurdi-Enugu Road on his way from Jos and taken to a thick forest. “The abductors called to demand a ransom of N10m before policemen, acting on intelligence information, swooped on them, after which a gun duel ensued which forced the hoodlums to abandon their victims inside the forest and fled.”
The police spokesman added that Pa Obi commended the police for the rescue. “Pa Obi thanked the Commissioner of Police, Danmallam Mohammed, and the operatives, saying he is happy with the operatives’ performance.” Mikel’s trauma The news of the abduction was relayed to the Super Eagles midfielder on the telephone, a few hours to the crucial match against Argentina which Nigeria lost 1-2.
The kidnappers were said to have threatened to kill the elderly Obi, if the law enforcement agencies were informed. In an interview published on the online platform of a cable television, Mikel said he got a call from Nigeria barely four hours to the Argentina game that his father had been kidnapped. Mikel further revealed that the kidnappers demanded N10 million ($28,000 US) for the safe return of his father, Pa Michael Obi. “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,” Mikel was quoted as saying.
“I had to shut it out of my head and decided to 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.” His courage to play the Argentine game despite his father’s abduction drew applause from a cross section of Nigerians on the social media for his exemplary display of patriotism.
”Congratulations, Mikel, over the rescue of your father from the den of kidnappers. Your courage to play in the match for Nigeria has shown that you are a patriotic country man and yours is a rare gut. We need people like you to run our great country at this moment. Well done,” said a commentator identified as Temiloluwa. Another Nigerian, Sesan, wrote: ” I thank God for the release of your father from the kidnappers. Playing for Nigeria on a day your father was abducted is a rare courage. Keep it up. Your sense of patriotism is commendable; it is a huge sacrifice.” Another respondent, Anthony Igwe, said: ‘’May divine protection never fail you and your family. You are a very courageous man. You deserve a national honour for your heroic conduct. It is well with you.” It will be recalled that the Eagles captain’s father was first kidnapped on August 12, 2011 on his way home from work in Jos, the Plateau State capital.