JOS, Nigeria — Seven suspects, including two former soldiers, were on Monday charged with the kidnapping of Chelsea footballer John Obi Mikel’s father in August, court documents said.

They all pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge of conspiracy and terrorism levied at them in the central Nigerian city of Jos, they said.

The Nigerian Army Authority said last month that it had dismissed private Jaduwa Thlama, one of the soldiers found culpable in the kidnapping of Pa Michael Obi, the father of the soccer star.

Thlama and his accomplice, Sergeant Victor Essien, were charged with five other suspects, the sources said.

Judge Ambrose Allagoa directed the accused to be remanded in prison custody till November 21 when the hearing in the case will begin, they said.

Michael Obi was abducted in Jos on August 12 and freed 10 days later in a Nigerian police raid.

The police said they carried out the raid in the northern city of Kano, hundreds of kilometres (miles) from where the abduction took place in Jos, capital of central Plateau state. Mikel’s family resides in Jos.

No ransom was paid to free Obi, according to police, who said they raided a house in Kano where he was being held after receiving information from a suspect.AFP