Controversy, Counterclaims Trail Arrest, Extradition of Sunday Igboho
Yoruba activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, was reportedly arrested on Tuesday by security operatives in Cotonou, Benin Republic, yesterday, for immigration offences.
Igboho, who was arrested with his wife, was allegedly accused of possessing the country’s passport, sparking controversies.
At press time last night, his lawyer, Yomi Alliyu, SAN, was making frantic efforts to ensure he was not repatriated to Nigeria by the Beninois government.
The Department of State Service, DSS, had declared Igboho wanted after its operatives carried out a bloody midnight raid on his residence in Soka area of Ibadan, in Oyo State.
There were, however, conflicting reports about Igboho’s arrest, while an account said Igboho was arrested Monday night after fleeing Nigeria to evade arrest by the DSS, another account said the Federal Government arrested Igboho throuigh INTERPOL in the Benin Republic.
According to reports, a source privy to his departure from Nigeria said he had perfected plans to secretly escape from Nigeria through Cotonou, heading for Germany. He was, however, nabbed by security operatives in the neighboring country.
Another source said: “Sunday Igboho has been arrested in Cotonou. He was arrested about an hour ago.
“He was supposed to travel to Germany through Cotonou this night. He wanted to leave Africa through Cotonou. He was arrested by security operatives in Cotonou.
“They are planning to bring him back to Nigeria.”
It was further gathered that Igboho was arrested for an immigration offence bordering on owning the country’s passport.
Vanguard was reliably informed that he may be arraigned in court today for the offence.
Moves for his extradition
Besides, it was gathered that the Federal Government is making moves to ensure Igboho is extradited to Nigeria.
But there are also strong moves by some Yoruba leaders to stop Igboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
Some Yoruba leaders, it was gathered, were engaged in marathon meetings last night to see how the Federal Government’s extradition move can be thwarted.
A source familiar with the development, who pleaded anonymity, told Vanguard: “Meetings are ongoing by Yoruba leaders to rally round him (Igboho). There are plans to ensure that Igboho’s extradition is stopped.”
However, efforts to get the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, last night to confirm this proved abortive as calls made to his telephone lines were unreplied.
Beninoise govt shouldn’t extra-dite him —Igboho’s lawyer
When contacted, Sunday Igboho’s lawyer, Mr. Yomi Alliyu, SAN, said yesterday he hadn’t been in contact with his client since news of his arrest filtered in.
He expressed shock over the news that the Federal Government arrested Igboho with the help of INTERPOL in the Benin Republic.
Alliyu, who spoke with Vanguard, said: “I have not had contact with my client since the news of his arrest in Benin Republic.”
He, however, urged the Beninoise government to refuse any application for extradition by the Federal Government.
The statement read: “Again, another wife of our client, Mrs Ropo Adeyemo, a German citizen, has been arrested together with her husband in Cotonou. What offence has she committed to warrant this?
“The INTERPOL and Benin Republic should be aware of the act of savagery committed in his client’s house in the wee hours of 1st July 2021, between 1.00 am and 3.00 am; shooting their way through and killing two people in the process and maliciously damaging his properties in the course of that illegal invasion.
“The invading DSS officers did not state any reason for their invasion to our client before or during the invasion. They later paraded 13 people, arms and ammunition which our client denied to be his as he is a peaceful campaigner for self-determination and it is on good record that the guns and ammunitions displayed were the same displayed in 2013 in another instance.
“This could be seen on 2013 Facebook though DSS has dismissed this on their website. But what they cannot deny is that when they were leaving our client’s house they left with two corpses and people arrested and nothing more except two guns belonging to the police escorts of Mr. Adisa Saheed Olalekan.
“One of the people they killed was one Mr. Olalekan of Oladams Motors, Osogbo, who came to Sunday Igboho’s house to discuss auto business. He came with two police escorts. Though the policemen were not among the people paraded to the public, heir guns were among those displayed.
“The Extradition Treaty of 1984 among Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and Republic of Benin excluded political fugitives. It also states that where the fugitive will not get justice because of discrimination and/or undue delay in prosecution the host country should not release the fugitive.
“Article 20 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which the four countries are signatories made agitation for self-determination a fundamental right to be protected by all countries. This made Chief Sunday Adeyemo a political offender who cannot be deported and/or extradited by the good people of the Republic of Benin for any reason.
“Secondly, that he cannot get justice or even be killed is apparent in how those arrested in his house were detained for more than 21days now without access to their lawyers. Even the wife among them could not change her undies for 21 days. Which inhuman treatment can be more this?
“We urge the good government of the Republic of Benin and the international community, especially Germany, to rise and curb the impunity of the Nigerian Government by refusing any application for extradition of our client, who already has an application before the ICC duly acknowledged.”
Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere, Akintoye, YCE, others react
The news of Igboho’s arrest, however, generated mixed reactions from Yoruba leaders and groups, including the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo; the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, leader of Ilana Omo Oodua, Professor Banji Akintoye; Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, former governor of Oyo State, Chief Rashidi Ladoja and Kiriji Heritage Defenders.
We’ve mobilized lawyers to fight Igboho’s extradition — Akintoye
In his reaction, renowned historian and leader of the umbrella body of Yoruba self-determination groups, Emeritus Professor Banji Akintoye, who confirmed Igboho’s arrest said that he, alongside other Yoruba patriots are currently working to assist Ighoho prevent his extradition back to Nigeria, saying “Benin Republic is a land that respects the rules of law.”
Akintoye in a statement by his Communications Manager, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, called on all Yoruba people within and beyond the shores of Nigeria to ensure their ancestral land was not defeated by invaders.
The statement read: “I received last night the troubling information that Chief Sunday Adeyemo fondly called Igboho had been arrested at the Cotonou Airport.
“I and other Yoruba Patriots who are immediately available are now working to assist, and ensure that nobody will be able to do to him anything unlawful or primitive and to prevent him from being extradited into Nigeria which is strongly possible.
“Fortunately, Benin Republic is reliably a land of law where the authorities responsibly obey the law. We have secured the services of a leading and highly-respected lawyer whom we can confidently rely on.
“What the situation now calls for is that the Yoruba nation at home and in Diaspora must stand strong, resolved that neither Sunday Igboho nor any other Yoruba person will henceforth be subjected to dehumanizing treatment of any kind.
“We, Yoruba nation, are, by the grace of God, a very strong nation. We must arise now to show that strength.
“For a start, we must all see to it now that Sunday Ighoho will get his freedom back to be able to move and operate as a free person. We all know he has committed no crime.’’
We’re still studying situation—Afenifere
On its part, Afenifere said though surprised over the Igboho’s arrest, it was still studying the situation of events before making a formal statement.
When contacted, Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said: “The news of the arrest was a surprise. But the body is still studying the situation before making a formal statement as details of the arrest is still sketchy.”
He was, however, quick to add that “security agencies appear to be more active in hunting those who are peacefully agitating for the rights and better deals for their people than they appear to be in dealing with bandits and terrorists who have deprived thousands of innocent Nigerians of their lives and properties.”
He said: “If half of the energy deployed to apprehend Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho had been deployed to the menace of terrorists and bandits who kill, rape, rob and kidnap people, we would not have been in the unfortunate security mess that we are.
“It is hoped that government will direct more attention to addressing issues that gave birth to ethnic agitations. The earlier this is done the better.”
War has been declared on Yoruba people with Igboho’s arrest —Adebanjo
But Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said war has been declared on Yoruba people following the arrest of Yoruba freedom fighter.
Adebanjo said: “Yoruba worldwide should take to the streets to make sure that Sunday Igboho is not brought back to Nigeria and if they bring him back, the Yoruba should ensure that he is not badly tortured or worse. They have declared war on our people.
“Freedom is never given, it is always won. People are too afraid of this regime and we have said it over and over that they should be bold to confront them and take back their country.
“They are ruling us with a Constitution that we did not make. It is a military Constitution and they have been rejecting all efforts to adopt a new Constitution, including the 2014 national conference.”
He should be given right to defend self —YCE
Also reacting, the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, said Igboho should be granted the right to defend himself, if truly he had been arrested.
The Secretary-General of YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, said: “For me, it has not been confirmed officially, and I am sure that the Department of State Security, DSS, will ultimately confirm if it’s true. And if it’s true, they have to go through the due process of law to carry out an investigation.
“He should be charged to a constituted court of law and should be granted the right to defend himself. There should be no course for alarm until we hear officially if he has been arrested.
“But I want to tell you, his arrest cannot in any way, affect the Yoruba nation agitation. If the agitations are genuine with their convictions, that should not derail them from achieving their aims.”
Grant Igboho, Kanu amnesty as Boko Haram insurgents, Ladoja tells FG
Similarly, a former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, urged the Federal Government to grant amnesty to Igboho and the detained leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, just like it did to several Boko Haram insurgents that were also enlisted into some security agencies.
Ladoja, who spoke with journalists at his Ondo Street, Bodija, Ibadan residence, said arresting Igboho and Kanu could not end the agitation for self-determination across the country, adding that their agitations were a result of the government’s failure to tackle insecurity in the country, which has escalated.
He said: “I want to appeal to the Federal Government to grant Igboho and Kanu amnesty, just as some of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents, were given amnesty. Igboho and Kanu are the creation of the Federal Government. Why? Because whenever they arrested herdsmen, who were killing their people, the Federal Government never acts. That was why those two people came up to defend their people.
“The Boko Haram members that were arrested a year ago by the Federal Government have been released to the Borno State Government. The Federal Government created Sunday Igboho in the context of Igangan massacre. People are agitating for what they believe in. They should be treated with care, and not as criminals.
“Yoruba leaders, including the Alaafin of Oyo, have been complaining about atrocities committed by Fulani herdsmen without a response from the Federal Government.
“Order would come from above to release them and that is why people resorted to self-help. It is in this process that Igboho was created due to the killings that had been happening in Ibarapa axis and nobody has been arrested and even if they were arrested, they will be released.
“Arrest of Igboho will not change anything if Federal Government failed to do the needful, many Igboho will be created. Just like Kanu has become an acclaimed leader, and to some people, Igboho has also become a leader. If caution is not taken by the Federal Government, the issue might boomerang, leading to many Igboho and Kanu.”
Violent abuse of rights awaits Igboho, if extradited — ARG
Also reacting, the Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, expressed worry that Igboho’s right might be violently abused if he is extradited.
ARG’s chairman and secretary, Messrs Olawale Oshun and Ayo Afolabi respectively, said: “We have just learned that Sunday Adeyemo, one of the leading activists against the unmitigated terror of herdsmen, has been intercepted in Benin Republic.
“It is mind-boggling however that Nigerian central government’s concerted effort to ground the peaceful pursuit of self-determination by Mr. Adeyemo is not commensurate with its grovelling attitude towards murderous herdsmen, whose plan to overrun Yorubaland and turn it into a terrorized space is not hidden – but for the solid determination of Yoruba governors. Similarly, we have not seen such concerted effort directed at checkmating bandits who have turned the country into a war zone.’’
FG pursuing shadow, not substance — Ozekhome
In his reaction, constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), yesterday, berated the Federal Government for engaging in what he termed as arresting and repatriation of “dissenters and challengers of its morbid nepotic and sectionalisitic policies.
Ozekhome, in a statement, challenged the Federal Government to exert the same energy it applied in the case of Igboho and IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, to tackle “AK-47 wielding armed bandits, Boko Haram and other deadly insurgents” he said have continued to hold the nation to ransom.”
Maintaining that he was not impressed with the arrest of Kanu and Igboho, Ozekhome, said: “The FG appears supersonically efficacious when it comes to arresting and repatriating dissenters and challenges of its morbid nepotic and sectionalisitic government.
“The same government paradoxically appears abysmally weak and hopelessly helpless when it comes to fighting AK-47 wielding armed bandits, Boko Haram and other deadly insurgents, including ransom-taking kidnappers who are almost kidnapping the very heart and soul of Nigeria daily. The Nigerian nation appears captured by non-state actors.
“To me, this lopsided template demonstrates acute intolerance and ambivalence. It shows self-contradiction.”
Igboho shouldn’t be treated like a criminal — Kiriji Heritage Defenders
Also, a socio-cultural group, Kiriji Heritage Defenders warned that treating Igboho as a criminal would only embolden more agitators against the Federal Government.
In a statement by its Director-General, Dr Ekundayo Ademola, yesterday in Osogbo, disclosed that treating Igboho as a criminal would only embolden more agitators against the federal government.
Confusion trails Sunday Igboho’s purported release
Confusion has begun to trail the release of Sunday Igboho as Vanguard reliably gathered that Igboho is yet to be released.
One of Igboho’s aides, Mr. Dapo Salami, who spoke to Vanguard, said the report that he (Igboho) has been released was false and misleading.
Salami said: “He is still being detained. Disregard any information that says Chief Igboho has been released. But I believe notable Yoruba leaders should have been working on ways to secure his release without any delay.”
Vanguard News Nigeria