Nigerian police rescued the father of national soccer team captain John Obi Mikel after he was kidnapped for the second time in seven years.
Mikel was playing in the World Cup in Russia, although Nigeria failed to make it out of the group stage.
Police in the southern state of Enugu said in a statement they rescued the father, named as Pa Michael Obi, along with his driver unhurt in the Egede-Udi forest on Monday following a “gun duel”.
“They were rescued hale and hearty,” said police in the statement adding both victims were reunited with their families.
Kidnapping for ransom is common in parts of Nigeria, particularly in the Niger Delta region, the country’s oil production heartland which neighbours Enugu state.
Mikel told Britain’s Guardian newspaper he was told his father was kidnapped and would be killed if he reported anything just hours before he captained Nigeria in their game against Argentina on June 26.
The police statement said the abductors demanded a ransom of 10 million naira ($32,700).
Police said Mikel’s father and driver were travelling from Jos when they were taken on the Markurdi Enugu road.
“Operatives acting on intelligence swooped on the kidnappers where a gun duel ensued,” police said in the statement, adding the abductors abandoned their victims in the forest.
It was the second time Mikel’s father was abducted. He was kidnapped in 2011 in central Nigeria and later released.