The Sport Entertainment and Media Group – managers of Mikel Obi – have said that the family of the Super Eagles and Chelsea midfielder are negotiating with the kidnappers of Mr Michael Obi. They, however, dispute the amount being negotiated with the kidnappers released to the public by the media. The family had insisted the kidnappers had no contact with them.
The group said in a statement that reports in Nigeria of an £80,000 ($130,000) demand were inaccurate but that the sum requested was “sizeable” and that discussions had begun between the Nigeria international’s family and the kidnappers.
The full statement said, “SEM advises that reports from Nigeria of an £80,000 ransom demand for the return of John Obi Mikel’s father is not true.
“We confirm that Michael Obi has been abducted and that the kidnappers have been in touch with the family and representatives of the family and that discussions for Michael’s safe release have begun.
It added, “A sizeable demand has been made but for security reasons, we are unable to release details of the amount.
“Mikel would like to thank his family, friends, Chelsea FC and his agents for their support and at this time it is Mikel’s intention to play for Chelsea this weekend, encouraged by his family to do so.”
Chelsea Manager, Andre Villas-Boas, also confirmed that Mikel was available to face West Brom, despite the difficulties surrounding his father’s abduction in Nigeria.
Mikel played in last Sunday’s goalless draw at Stoke City, 48 hours after his father was kidnapped.
“As you know it is a very, very difficult situation,” said Villas-Boas. “He of course made himself available for the (Stoke) game and we are counting on him, if we decide he will play.”
Mikel had not had contact with the kidnappers when he made an appeal for his father’s safe return on Monday.
He told Sky Sports News in an interview, “Whoever has got my dad or knows where my dad is please contact me and hopefully he will be released. Please let him go – my dad is an old man and he hasn’t done any harm to anyone as far as I know and I don’t know why he has been taken.”
His father’s house in Jos was abandoned and the local police told Reuters they were investigating the disappearance. Mikel father’s transport company was also shut after the incident became public but THE PUNCH check at the firm on Tuesday confirmed that they had resumed operations.
This is the second kidnap case involving a family member of the national team players. Joseph Yobo’s brother was kidnapped in 2008.