The 74-year-old father of Super captain, Mikel Obi, Chief Michael
Obi, says he hasn’t spoken to his footballer son in 5 years.
The septuagenarian disclosed this in an new interview
with DailyTrust where he spoke about his recent encounter with
kidnappers and reasons why Mikel rarely comes to see him. He also
spoke on his relationship with Mikel’s twin daughters. Read excerpts
from the interview below:
Daily Trust: You recently regained your freedom from
kidnappers. Can you share your experience?
Chief Michael Obi: I was travelling home for a family
meeting, early evening, in Enugu. I’d just reminded my
driver to stop at the Ninth Mile to buy Okpa in case I fall
asleep. Not quite long after a checkpoint, we heard
gunshots ahead of us, so we stopped. My driver reckoned
it was armed robbers, and tried to reverse the car. But
another car from nowhere blocked us from behind, and the
people within came and dragged us out. The kidnappers
were six, well-armed and masked. They assaulted us, and
dragged us into the bush. We walked for many hours, and
when I complained that I could not continue, they beat me
again. Eventually, they told my driver to carry me on his
back. But after a while, he also got tired and dropped
me. We walked into the bush for what seemed like the
whole night, until the next morning. I asked them what
they wanted from me, and that was when they told me
they wanted N100 million. We communicated in Hausa,
and some broken English. I told them I could not afford it,
and they said they heard that my son sends me N50
million to me bi-weekly. We started to negotiate, and they
threatened to kill me. I told them I only had N2 million in
my bank account.
When I noticed they were serious, I told them I could give
them N5 million. We agreed on that sum, but they later
refused, insisting on N50 million. I finally pegged it at N10
million. Two days later, they brought out my phone to call
my son Tony, and I told him what was happening, and
asked him to go to my bank. But when they went there,
the manager was not on seat, so my other son, Ebele, who
is the goalkeeper for Heartlands of Owerri, contacted
Mikel. That was how the ransom was made available.
DT: How was the exchange done?
Obi: I asked them how the money could be made available
to them, and they suggested that the money be brought to
Mile 9. On Friday, my sons tried to get the money, but it
could only be made available on Monday, since banks
didn’t operate at the weekend. When I told the
kidnappers, they got mad and beat me.
So, in the early hours of Monday, they brought the phone
and asked me to speak with my son, in English or Hausa
only. My son told me they were on their way with the
money, and the kidnappers warned that if we dare involve
the police they would kill me. It was almost 12 noon when
my son called to say they were at the agreed spot. God so
kind, they used one of our transport buses, so they were
able to cross the police checkpoint without any hitch.
The kidnappers warned that if they find that the money
was short, they would kill me. But after almost two hours
of the ransom arriving, the kidnappers still didn’t go to
collect the money. I told them not to blame me if anything
happens to the money. They ignored me, and their leader
brought out marijuana and shared it round, and they
smoked. When they finished, four of them left, leaving two
to guard us. Almost two hours later, the two asked us to
get up and move, then gave my driver one of my phones. A
few minutes later, we heard gunshots. We fell to the
ground, while the two ran off. As we lay there, we heard
shouts saying the shooters were the police, come to rescue
us. They did, and led us to the main road.
DT: What about your car, and the ransom money?
Obi: It was later that the DPO told us that my car was at
the police station. My son Tony who carried the money told
me they didn’t collect it at the Ninth Mile, but asked him
to follow them with the money. He said they moved into
the bush, where he saw more armed gang members. He
gave them the money, and they examined it. They later
asked him to leave, and he came back and we reunited at
a relative’s filling station.
DT: How did they treat you when you were with them?
Obi: We slept on the ground, and for the five days we
were with them, there was heavy rain for three. It
drenched us under a tree. It was only once that they
brought us Okpa and pure water. Miraculously, I was
never hungry. My thoughts were on how to get home safe.
DT: How different was the experience from the one of
Obi: Those first kidnappers did not treat me as badly as
these ones. Though I stayed in a bunker for 11 days during
the first, they gave me food and the only time they beat
me was when they captured me.
DT: Was any ransom paid then?
Obi: None was paid. It was the handwork of God
DT: Your son Mikel paid the recent ransom. What’s your
Obi: It is an issue, but we don’t know what to do. It’s over
five years now without a phone call from him to me. But
he communicates with his mother. There is nothing I have
not done to fix it. God has told me that I should not feel
hurt. When we start to talk about it, I say, ‘Well, as long as
I see him on TV, doing great, no problem’.
DT: But some people say he called you recently…
Obi: During the just-concluded World Cup, one or two
days to one of their matches, we spoke. He called his
mum, and she told me that Nchekwube (Mikel) was on the
phone and I told him that God will see him through. I
prayed for him. That’s it. When he first joined Chelsea, my
people in Anambra were very happy that God has blessed
their son, and when he came to Abuja, they prepared very
well with the hope that he will come to our hometown.
They even made some magazines. It was grand. But he
didn’t come. It was a shameful thing to me, as a father.
He once told his brother that sometimes he picks his
phone to call me, but something tells him not to.
DT: Have you met your grandchildren, the twins, yet?
Obi: Sometime last year, he was to bring them so that I
could name them, he said he would. But he didn’t. His
other colleagues frequent home, so I don’t understand.
DT: Do you encourage him to invest at home?
Obi: Isn’t that why kidnappers are targeting me? Because
they think the money he makes, he ships it to me to make