Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Mikel begs kidnappers: Let my dad go - he's an old man

Distraust Chelsea star John Obi Mikel has pleaded with the gang who snatched his dad in Nigeria to free him.


The 24-year-old midfielder told of his shock at hearing Michael had vanished after leaving the ­transport company he runs on Friday. There has been no ransom note and no one has made contact with the player or his family since his kidnap.


Mikel, who at the weekend played for the Blues despite the anguish of knowing Michael was missing, looked ­devastated as he said: “Whoever has got my dad or knows where he is, please contact me and hopefully he should be released.




“He’s an old man and hasn’t done any harm to anyone as far as I know. I have always tried to help the country in every way I can, playing for the country, serving the country. This is the time for the country to help me in this situation. “This is still a shock to me and my brother, we can’t believe it and we don’t know what to do.”


Kidnapping is common in Nigeria. Targets are usually relatives of the rich or western oil workers, snatched and held to ransom. Michael vanished in Jos – a city Mikel insists is not normally associated with abductions.


The £70,000-a-week Nigerian ­international, said to be the seventh highest-paid African player in Europe, added: “It is normally safe in Jos and this is very rare. My family have lived there all our lives and the kidnappers will know who my dad is and who his son is.”


Mikel said he took the agonising decision to play in Chelsea’s 0-0 draw at Stoke on Sunday after his mum begged him to.


“It was very ­difficult," he added. "The manager asked me how I felt and I said I didn’t want to let my team down, the club down or my family. “If I didn’t play I think my mum would be very sad with me. I think I made their day by playing. I spoke to my mum before the game and she said to be strong and do make sure I do well in the game.


“My team-mates didn’t really know. My family didn’t want to tell me about my dad. They wanted to wait until after the game but the manager had to tell me, he said I had to know.” Mikel’s agent, John Shittu, praised his courage for playing against Stoke. He said: “He is totally devastated. We were not sure whether to tell him before the game".But after speaking to manager Andre Villas-Boas and sporting director Mike Emenalo we agreed he had a right to be informed of such a serious incident. He was under a lot of stress but he showed a lot of character and mental strength to play. It’s been tough for the young man. The family in Jos reported his dad missing at the police station as expected but we’re taking all necessary measures to find him. “We’ve told him to be brave and to stay calm.”


Police in Nigeria have told Mikel, who has won 30 caps for his country, not to return to Jos over fears for his safety. Plateau state police ­commissioner Emmanuel Dipo Ayeni confirmed Michael had disappeared but said there were no further details. He added: “We are still searching to find his ­location.”


Chelsea said yesterday: “Everyone at this football club was very concerned to hear that John’s father has been reported as missing and possibly abducted. “We will give Mikel and his family our full support at this difficult time.” Mikel’s representatives Sport ­Entertainment and Media announced the news of the kidnap. The agency said: “Thus far no ransom demand has been received.”


Kidnappings are common in Nigeria, with the families of footballers targeted because they are rich. It is in the oil-producing Niger Delta in the south where the majority of abductions for ransom occur.
The older brother of Everton star Joseph Yobo was kidnapped there in 2008. Nornu was freed after 10 days but it is unclear whether a ransom was ever paid. Several Brits have been snatched in recent years including construction and oil workers

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