LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) – The father of Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has been abducted by unknown men in Nigeria's restive central region, police said Monday.
Plateau state police commissioner Dipo Ayeni told The Associated Press that Michael Obi disappeared from his home sometime Friday. Ayeni said he had no other details about the kidnapping.
''We are still searching to find his location,'' Ayeni said.
A spokesman for Nigeria's federal police command in Abuja, the country's capital, declined to comment.
London-based Sport Entertainment & Media Group, John Obi Mikel's management company, said no ransom demand had been made. It said Chelsea was looking at ''security issues'' after the abduction.
''Mikel was informed by his manager prior to the Stoke v Chelsea match & decided to play so as not to let down his team & family,'' the media group said on Twitter.
Nigeria, an oil-rich country of 150 million people, is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. Plateau state, in Nigeria's fertile central belt, has seen thousands die in recent years in religious and ethnic violence rooted largely on political and economic issues.
Mikel's family, from the Igbo tribe, are a minority in the area.
Kidnappings in Plateau state are a rarity when compared to Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, where militants and criminal gangs often kidnapped foreigners for ransom. Middle-class Nigerian families also increasingly find themselves targeted in the country's east as well.
The abduction comes after a Forbes magazine survey in June named Mikel as the seventh highest-paid African player in Europe. The magazine listed Mikel's salary as $5.8 million a year.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP