By Oluwashina Okeleji |BBC News|
The mother of former Nigeria coach and player Samson Siasia has been released after being kidnapped by gunmen ten weeks ago.
Mrs Ogere Siasia, 76, and two others were seized back in July in Bayelsa, southern Nigeria, where kidnappings for ransom are frequent.
Siasia, who had pleaded for help last week, told the BBC he was ‘relieved’ that his mother had been released safely.
“It’s been really tough but I’m pretty relieved that she’s finally released on Sunday morning,” he told BBC Sport.
“I can only thank Nigerians and everyone involved in the safe return of my mother.
“She’s old and in poor health right now. I pray no one has to go through this emotional trauma.”
Although Mrs Siasia was released early on Sunday, it is not clear if a ransom was paid.
It’s the second time in four years that Mrs Siasia had been kidnapped after she was previously held by gunmen for 12 days, before her release back in November 2015.
Siasia, who recently filed an appeal against a life ban for match-fixing, imposed by world football’s governing body Fifa, is switching attention to clearing his name.
He is expected to pay 100,000 Swiss Francs (US$100,700) by 10 October for his appeal case to be heard at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) in the Swiss city of Lausanne.
“My mother is unwell so she needs medical attention, which is my priority now,” he added.
“Then I have to do all I can to be heard at CAS because being in football is the only life that I know.”
Siasia, who played over 50 times for his country while scoring 16 goals, won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria and played in their maiden World Cup appearance later that same year.
As a coach he led his country’s under-20 and under-23 sides to continental success in 2005 and 2015 respectively.
He also guided the U-20s to a runners-up finish at the 2005 World Youth Championships (as it was known at the time) in the Netherlands.
Siasia is the most decorated African football coach at the Olympics, winning silver at the Beijing Games in 2008 and bronze at the 2016 Games in Rio.