LAGOS, Nigeria, June 11 – Nigerian police have freed international footballer Christian Obodo unhurt and without a ransom paid in a raid following his kidnapping in the country’s south at the weekend, authorities said Monday.
“He has been rescued and we have five suspects in our net as a result of it,” Delta state police spokesman Charles Muka said. He said police staged a raid on Sunday night after trailing the kidnappers to their hideout.
In addition to the five arrests, an AK-47 rifle was recovered, Muka said.
The Italy-based midfielder was kidnapped by four men in Effurun in Delta state on Saturday morning near the oil city of Warri, where abductions for ransom occur regularly.
He was abducted in front of a church, where he had gone to worship in his Bentley Continental car marked ‘Obodo 5’.
His kidnappers had demanded a ransom of about $188,000.
Delta state sports commission press secretary Timi Ebikagboro also confirmed Obodo’s release.
Obodo, 28, is a Nigerian international midfielder who spent last season on loan at southern Italian club Lecce from fellow Serie A side Udinese.
Kidnappings for ransom of expatriates and wealthy Nigerians or their relatives has occurred regularly in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, where Delta state is located, and occasionally elsewhere.
The brother of Everton defender Joseph Yobo was kidnapped in 2008 and freed days later, while last year the father of Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi was also abducted in the central city of Jos before being freed after a police raid.