Nigeria U-23 coach Samson Siasia's mother released

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Samson Siasia
Samson Siasia

The mother of Nigeria Under-23 coach Samson Siasia has been released after being kidnapped by gunmen 12 days ago.

Three kidnappers took Ogere Siasia from the family home in Bayelsa state in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where kidnappings for ransom are frequent.

Siasia, who is in Senegal with his squad for the Confederation of African Football Under-23 Championship, told the BBC he was happy his mother had been freed safely and reunited with her family.

"We've already spoken and she's happy to be home," he told BBC Sport.

"It's been a crazy two weeks, but I would like to say thank you to the NFF and everyone involved in the safe return of my mother.

"Now I can completely focus on the business here, doing well at this tournament would be a perfect way to thank Nigerians for their love."

The kidnappers had initially demanded 150 million naira (US$750,000), but subsequently reduced their demand to 50 million naira (US$250,000), and 35 million naira (US$175,000) for the release of the 72-year-old.

Although Mrs Siasia was released early on Saturday, it is not clear if a ransom was paid.

Police in Bayelsa said the hunt for the kidnappers was still on.

Kidnapping, often for ransom, is common in parts of Nigeria and footballers' families are increasingly becoming targets.

International defender Onyekachi Apam was kidnapped on 31 December 2007 in the south-eastern city of Enugu by armed men who took his car before releasing him.

Nornu Yobo, elder brother of former Everton and Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo, was famously kidnapped in 2008 in oil-rich Port Harcourt.

Nornu was released after 10 days but it was never made clear whether a ransom was paid.

Former international Christian Obodo was abducted in Warri, southern Nigeria, in June 2012. He was rescued by the police twenty-four hours later.

A year earlier, the father of Nigerian midfielder and Chelsea player John Obi Mikel was kidnapped in Jos, central Nigeria.

Nigerian police, however, rescued Michael Obi senior from his abductors days later.