Former Super Eagles midfielder, Christian Obodo, was kidnapped by unknown assailants on Sunday in Warri, Delta State.
The Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, Onome Onovawakpoyeya, confirmed the incident to The PUNCH, adding that the 36-year-old was abducted by yet-to-be identified persons when he stopped to buy bananas along Refinery Road.
“Obodo was kidnapped at about 5pm on Sunday around Ishaka Hotel just along Refinery Road,” Onovawakpoyeya told The PUNCH.
“He was with his girlfriend when he was abducted. They both stopped by the road to buy bananas.”
Onovawakpoyeya said the kidnappers are yet to make ransom demands for Obodo’s release.
The incident marks the second time the former Udinese midfielder has been kidnapped after an experience on 9 June, 2012 when he was abducted on his way to church in Warri.
The former Inter Milan star managed to escape the clutches of his abductors the next day before being found by members of a local vigilante group who informed the police who then trailed the abductors to Isoko where they were apprehended.
Kidnapping has been on the rise in Nigeria with footballers – who are perceived as well off and thus a lucrative source of ransoms – increasingly targeted as a restive population resort to crime in the face of worsening economic hardship and burgeoning youth unemployment.
Enyimba midfielder Dayo Ojo and Abia Comets player Benjamin Iluyomade were kidnapped in March and spent three days in captivity before they were rescued by police.
In 2007, former international Onyekachi Apam was abducted by armed men and in 2018, an elder brother of former Eagles captain and coach Joseph Yobo was abducted and held for ten days in Port Harcourt.
Former Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi’s father was kidnapped in Jos during the 2018 FIFA World Cup with the incident relayed to Obi just hours before he took to the field against Argentina.
Last year, the mother of Bordeaux winger Samuel Kalu was abducted by unknown persons in Aba, Abia State before being released after six days.
Former Eagles midfielder and coach Samson Siasia has seen his mother Mrs Beauty Ogere kidnapped on several occasions the latest which occurred on 15 July 2019 in Sagbama, Bayelsa.
She was eventually released three weeks after a one and a half million naira ransom payment was made to her abductors.