Quick links


Mikel John Obi stays at Chelsea as search for kidnapped father widens

Mikel John Obi stays at Chelsea as search for kidnapped father widensThe Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi trained as normal with his team-mates on Tuesday while security agencies in his native Nigeria continued to search for his father Michael who, it is feared, was abducted late last week.

Police are searching areas in Plateau province and its principal city, Jos, for Obi Sr. The family have yet to receive a ransom demand. Michael Obi, who runs an inter-state transport company, has not been seen since leaving work last Friday night, and calls to his mobile telephone have gone unanswered. The device has been unreachable since Saturday.

That area of Nigeria has seen an escalation in religious tensions in recent months, with the authorities forced to reflect that in their search. "I met with my division heads immediately we got information and I can tell you that we have started sweeping the whole state," said Desmond Agwu, the regional head of the state security service. "We have sent Muslim operatives to the Muslim areas, and Christian operatives to the Christian areas. We believe that, by the Grace of God, he will be found."

Mikel Obi played all 90 minutes of Sunday's goalless draw with Stoke City, having been informed by the Chelsea manager, André Villas-Boas, of his father's disappearance some 24 hours earlier. Only one of his team-mates, Salomon Kalou, knew of the incident when the game kicked off at the Britannia Stadium, but Chelsea's players have since expressed their support for the 24-year-old now that the news has become public. Mikel Obi does not envisage returning home to Nigeria yet, and is available for Saturday's game with West Bromwich Albion.

The player issued an emotional appeal for his father's safe return on Monday, with his elder brother Ebele, who plays for the Nigerian Premier League club Enugu Rangers, confirming his family remain in the dark as to Michael Obi's fate. "We still have not heard anything from anybody," he said. "It is very, very sad. He went to work on Friday and we have not seen or heard from him since then. He always drives himself to work and back. That fateful day, we were trying to reach him on his phones without any luck.

"The phones kept ringing but no one was taking the calls. After a while, the phones stopped ringing. That is the situation till this moment. We are doing all we can to get him back [but] unfortunately we have not heard anything from anyone and without information, it will be difficult for us to act."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Dominic Fifield, for The Guardian on Tuesday 16th August 2011 20.37 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch