Former Nigeria midfielder Christian Obodo has made a sensational escape from suspected kidnappers in the country’s oil-rich Delta State. Obodo, who has spent over a decade in Serie A including spells with Fiorentina and Udinese, was reported to have been kidnapped in Nigeria’s Delta State on Sunday.
Obodo was driving around Nigeria’s city of Warri on Sunday when he said two armed men forced themselves inside his car.
“They pushed my girlfriend out of the car,” he told AFP by phone, adding that a third gunman drove in a car behind them.
“I was praying and trying to hold a conversation with them asking them what have I done, but they barked at me and told me to keep quiet and that if I make any sound I was going to be killed.”
The 36-year-old who was a regular in Nigerian football team between 2003 and 2008 explained how the kidnappers drove around town for several hours until two men asked him to stop the car and stepped out to speak with their accomplice in the car behind.
“I looked behind and sensing a little ease, I sped off,” he said.
Police spokesperson Onome Onowakpoyeya confirmed that Obodo was briefly abducted and released.
“I wasn’t harmed in any way and nothing was taken from me,” said Obodo.
In Africa’s most populous country, kidnapping for ransom by criminal gangs are common, particularly in the oil-producing Delta region.
This is not the first time Obodo has been kidnapped. In 2012, Obodo was abducted in the same area and was rescued a day later following a police raid. His kidnappers had demanded a ransom of about $188,000 (149,000 euros).
Obodo was just 17 when he moved to Italy in 2001 to play for Perugia and went on to play for Fiorentina, Udinese, Torino and Lecce before switching to Dynamo Minsk in 2014.