By Chux Odoh
Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel has spoken about the circumstances around the kidnap and eventual rescue of his father Chief Michael Obi.
Pa Michael as revealed was travelling on June 26 from his base in Jos, Plateau state to Enugu for a burial before himself and his driver were kidnapped and taken into the bush. Pa Michael has since been rescued after security operatives mounted a manhunt for the kidnappers and he is now receiving medical attention following the trauma from the encounter.
According to a report by Guardian, Mikel got the news just 4 hours before Nigeria played their crucial World Cup match against Argentina which they lost 2 – 1. The Nigerian skipper was travelling on the team bus to St Petersburg when he received a phone call from a family member informing him of his father’s situation. He was then given a phone number to connect with the kidnappers, who ordered him to pay a ransom.
Mikel said he opted against sharing the news with the Nigerian FA after being warned that his father would be killed if he reported anything to the authorities.
Mikel said: “I played while my father was in the hands of bandits, I had to suppress the trauma. I took a call four hours before kick-off to tell me what had happened.
“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.
“Thankfully, my father was safely released on Monday afternoon. I thank the police authorities for their rescue efforts and the support I’ve received from friends and family members. Unfortunately, my dad is now in hospital receiving emergency treatment as a result of the torture he received during his capture.”