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  • Colin UdohSpecial to ESPN

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      Itinerant writer. Engineer in a previous incarnation. One time Black Belt. Lover of football, flirter with other sports.

Kidnapped Enyimba midfielder Ekundayo Ojo and Abia Comets’ Benjamin Iluyomade have been released, three days after their abduction.

An official statement from the Nigeria Professional Football League club said that both players “were released on Wednesday night following combined efforts of Enyimba Football Club and families of the players”.

Enyimba chairman Felix Anyansi-Agwu told ESPN that “we are extremely relieved”.

“We were all traumatized by the incident,” he said.

“This was something that nobody could predict, or wished for, and we are very relieved now that they are back safe.”

As is the general, unspoken policy in Nigeria, the club would not confirm if any ransom was paid. Anyansi-Agwu said only that the club and the families had worked together to get the players released.

“I think we should be thankful that the players are back and safe,” Anyansi-Agwu said.

“It is not like they went out to do the wrong thing and got caught up. They were given a break because of the coronavirus outbreak and choose to go home to spend the time with their families only to run into this unexpected situation.

“We thank God that they are now out of it.”

Both players were on their way to Akure in south-western Nigeria. They were driving in Ojo’s car with Emmanuel James, another Enyimba player, when their vehicle, along with other commercial vehicles on the route, ran into armed gunmen along the Benin-two expressway.

James managed to escape, as Ojo and Iluyomade were abducted.

The players have been reunited with their families.

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