JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - Kidnappers who abducted the father of Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel contacted his family on Wednesday requesting a 20 million naira ransom for his release, Nigerian police said.
Police were contacted on Friday after Mikel’s father Michael, who runs a transport company, failed to return to his home in the central Nigerian town of Jos.
Apev Jacob, a spokesman for the local police, said they had found his father’s car abandoned but did not disclose the location.
Jacob gave no further details on how ransom negotiations were progressing and Mikel’s family declined to comment. Mikel is understood to earn more than $100,000-a-week.
The 24-year-old Nigeria international played in Sunday’s English Premier League season-opening 0-0 draw at Stoke City despite knowing his father was abducted on Friday.
He has publicly pleaded for his safe return.
“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,” Mikel told Sky Sports in an interview on Monday.
It is not the first time a relative of a Premier League player has been abducted in Nigeria, where most people live on less than $2 a day, after former Everton defender Joseph Yobo’s brother was kidnapped in 2008.
Kidnapping of oil workers in the southern Niger Delta has been relatively common in the past but abductions have begun spreading further north.