KANO, NIGERIA // The father of the Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel was released by his kidnappers in Nigeria last night and police said five suspects had been arrested.
After Michael Obi was abducted on August 12, Mikel received a "sizeable" ransom demand last week. Despite his personal trauma, Mikel played for Chelsea the day after learning of the kidnapping and made public appeals for his dad's safe return.
"I was taken right deep into the bush, in an isolated area in Jos [in central Nigeria]. I started begging them, yet they beat me mercilessly, kicking me with their boots," Michael said.
"There are five of them and they were dressed in military uniforms. They pushed me into a vehicle painted in military colours and began to drive very fast. I never knew a vehicle can fly like that."
Kano police commissioner Ibrahim Idris told reporters a team of officers had arrested five suspected kidnappers after raiding a neighbourhood in the Kabuga area of the city after a tip-off from a former policeman named Jacob Kowen.
Idris said the suspects were dressed as soldiers and were using a vehicle painted in military colours.
"John Obi Mikel would like to thank everyone in Nigeria, his family and friends, Chelsea FC and their fans and his agents for their total support during this terrible time," Sport Entertainment & Media Group said.
It was not the first time a relative of a Premier League player had been abducted in Nigeria, where most people live on less than US$2 (Dh7.35) a day, after the 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.