Former Nigeria midfielder Christian Obodo, who spent over a decade in Seria A, including spells with Fiorentina and Udinese, has been abducted in the country’s oil-rich Delta state, police said Monday.
The 36-year-old was stopped by unknown gunmen on Sunday in the southern city of Warri, police spokesman Onome Onowakpoyeya told AFP.
“The police are on some intelligence lead towards his rescue,” Onowakpoyeya said, but “no contacts have been made with the abductors”.
Kidnappings for ransom by criminal gangs are common in Africa’s most populous country, in particular in the oil-producing Delta region.
Obodo was abducted in the same area in 2012, and rescued a day later in a police raid. His kidnappers had demanded a ransom of about $188,000 (149,000 euros).
A friend of the midfielder, who was a regular in the Nigeria team between 2003 and 2008, told AFP that this time Obodo was with his girlfriend in his car when he was abducted.
“They had stopped to buy bananas by the roadside when the gunmen stopped him, forced him out of his car into theirs, and drove off to an unknown destination,” the man who asked to be identified as Chief Big Sam said.
Obodo was 17 when he moved to Italy in 2001 to play for Perugia. He later appeared for Fiorentina, Udinese, Torino and Lecce before moving to Dynamo Minsk in 2014.