NEWS
08/17/2011 09:40 EDT | Updated 10/17/2011 05:12 EDT

Car of Mikel's missing father found; Family says no word from kidnappers

LAGOS, Nigeria - The family of Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel said Wednesday that they have recovered the car of the football player's kidnapped father, although they have yet to hear from his abductors.

Mikel's brother Tony Obi told The Associated Press that Michael Obi's car was found in Jos in central Nigeria, where kidnappings remain rare but religious and ethnic violence routinely flares. Obi declined to offer any details about how the family knew where to find the car.

"There's nobody that's called us," Mikel's brother said.

Mikel's family reported Michael Obi missing when he failed to make it home after leaving the office of his transportation company Friday in Jos. Mikel made a televised appeal for his father's release Monday after news of the kidnapping became public.

Meanwhile, Plateau state police commissioner Emmanuel Dipo Ayeni told the AP that he expected his officers and the family to resolve the abduction soon. Ayeni said Wednesday morning that police hoped to have "a breakthrough at the end of day," but later acknowledged police were still investigating the case.

He added that officers are "working hard to ensure that he is found alive, hale and hearty."

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 in political and economic issues.

Mikel's family, from the Igbo tribe, is in the minority in the area. However, Mikel said Monday that the kidnapping shocked him because his family never had any problems there before.

Kidnappings in Plateau state are a rarity when compared to Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, where militants and criminal gangs often kidnap foreigners for ransom. Middle class Nigerian families also increasingly find themselves targeted in the country's East as well.

Mikel has been at Chelsea since 2006. He previously played for Nigerian Premier League club Plateau United and Norwegian club Lyn.

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