There are concerns over the arrest of popular Yoruba activist, Mr. Sunday Igboho at an airport in Cotonou, Benin Republic Monday night while attempting to flee to Germany.
Igboho was declared wanted early July by the Department of State Services (DSS) following a raid carried out on his Soka residence in Oyo state.
The raid was based on intelligence reports received by the DSS on alleged stockpiling of arms.
The secret police directed Igboho to turn himself in or risk arrest.
In a bloody gun duel during the raid, two guards died while others sustained several degrees of injuries on both sides.
Some 12 individuals were also whisked away from the house to Abuja by the DSS.
The Cotonou arrest
But with his arrest, prominent Yoruba leaders and Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, have cautioned the federal government on the handling of the situation.
Igboho, Blueprint gathered from multiple sources, Tuesday, was in possession of a Benin Republic passport at the time of his arrest.
The operation, it was further learnt, was said to have been carried out by DSS operatives in collaboration with Interpol.
A source said: “It would have been difficult for authorities to arrest him outside the country. He had a German passport with 10-year validity. Forget the insinuations and reports that his location was tracked in Nigeria, it was difficult for intelligence sources to track his location; he has been in an undisclosed location in Benin Republic since about two weeks.”
And in quick reaction to the arrest, Igboho’s counsel, Yomi Aliyu (SAN), asked the government of Republic of Benin to refuse any application for his client’s extradition by the Nigerian government.
In a statement made available to journalists in Ibadan, Tuesday, Aliyu said granting such extradition application would amount to flouting the extradition Treaty of 1984 among the quartet of Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and Republic of Benin.
He claimed Igboho, who presently has a duly acknowledged application before the International Criminal Court (ICC), narrowly escaped death when DSS invaded his residence in Ibadan, shooting sporadically in search of him and killing at least two people with many, including one of his wives, arrested.
“The Extradition Treaty of 1984 between 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,” he said.
“Now, 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 than this?” the silk queried.
He further said: “It is a shocking news that Nigerian Government has gotten Chief Sunday Adeyemo a.k.a Sunday Igboho Oosa arrested by INTERPOL in Republic of Benin notwithstanding the political nature of his offence and what the DSS earlier said that they refrained from arresting him so as not to overheat the polity of Southwestern Nigeria.
“It is advisable for the INTERPOL and Benin Republic to be aware of the savagery acts committed in our client’s house in the wee hours of 1st July, 2021 between 1.00am and 3.00am; shooting their way through and killing 2 people in the process and maliciously damaging his properties in the course of that illegal invasion.”
Yoruba group backs move
Also, a prominent Yoruba scholar, Banji Akintoye, has confirmed Igboho’s arrest, saying Yoruba leaders were “currently working to provide assistance to prevent his extradition from Benin Republic.”
Akintoye, leader of ‘Ilana Omo Oodua’ and a prominent campaigner for Yoruba self-determination, said in a statement Tuesday that Igboho committed no crime.
The emeritus professor who said “leading lawyers in Benin Republic are now in charge,” also added that “for a start, we must all see to it now that Sunday Ighoho will get his freedom back so as to be able to move and operate as a free person.
“We have secured the services of a leading and highly respected lawyer whom we can confidently rely on. We know, furthermore, that for the protection of his people who are being brutalized, he has joined hands with many of his brethren to take the legally-appropriate step, namely to seek the intervention of the International Criminal Court.”
We‘re studying situation – Afenifere
And when contacted, the spokesman ofAfenifere, 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, however, added 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.
“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 presently.
“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.”
Also sounding some caution, the Osi Olubadan and former governor of Oyo state, High Chief Rashidi Ladoja asked the federal government to handle the issue of Igboho’s arrest with utmost caution.
Ladoja stated this in Ibadan Tuesday while speaking to journalists at his Bodija residents after observing his Eid-el-Kabir prayers at the University of Ibadan praying ground.
He said rather than treating Igboho as a criminal, the government should consider giving him amnesty as a citizen of Nigeria.
“It is not the arrest that is important to me. It is the federal government that created Sunday Igboho. It is the federal government that created him. It was in respect of killings in Igangan and other areas. When the perpetrators are arrested, they will claim that they have power from above and they will release them,” he said.
“If Sunday Igboho is arrested today and the attitude did not change, many Sunday Igboho will surface. It has never been bad like this. It is unfortunate that the President is turning deaf ears. Just like Kanu has become a leader to some people, Sunday Igboho is also a leader to some people,” the former governor added.
“The Fulani herdsmen have killed many people, Dr. Fatai Aborode, Alhaji Sherifat Adisa were killed, nobody was arrested. That is why Sunday Igboho resorted into self help. It was because of these that Sunday Igboho came and became a hero.
“If the situation is not well managed, many Kanu, Igboho will surface. They should give them amnesty just like the way they are giving Boko Haram,” he said.