There are strong indications that a legal loophole may ensure that Federal Government might not be able to extradite Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, who was arrested in Cotonou, Benin Republic, on Monday, back to Nigeria. This is even as prominent Yoruba leaders, yesterday, condemned the reported arrest of Igboho.
Igboho was reported to have been arrested at an airport in Cotonou on Monday night by the security forces in Benin Republic about three weeks after the Department of State Services (DSS) declared him wanted for allegedly stockpiling arms, an allegation he has since denied.
The DSS had raided Igboho’s Ibadan residence on July 1, 2021, arrested about 12 of his aides and killed two of them in a gun duel. DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, at a briefing, had vowed that “Igboho may run as far as he can. He may hide as long as he wants…But this will be the end of his shenanigans.” According to a local newspaper in the neighbouring West African country, Banouto, Igboho was nabbed at Cardinal Bernardin International Airport in Cotonou. The newspaper said he was “disembarked from his plane, arrested by the Beninese police while he was trying to travel to Germany and then transferred to the Cotonou Criminal Brigade.”
However, the activist’s lead counsel, Yomi Alliyu (SAN), shedding more light on the incident, said it was the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) who had arrested his client with his wife, Ropo. In a statement issued yesterday, Alliyu disclosed that the Federal Government of Nigeria through INTERPOL got Adeyemo and his wife, who is a German citizen, arrested on Monday night at the airport in Benin Republic.
The senior advocate said: “It is a shocking news that Nigerian Government has gotten Chief Sunday Adeyemo a.k.a Sunday Igboho Oosa arrested by INTERPOL in the 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 South-western Nigeria.”
He, however, pointed that there exists a legal loophole which might frustrate the Federal Government’s bid to bring him back to Nigeria since his client was a “fugitive”. According to him: “The Extradition Treaty of 1984 between Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and the 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. “Now, Article 20 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which the four countries are signatories made agitation for selfdetermination 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 might 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 21days! Which inhuman treatment can be more this? “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? “We urge the good government of the Republic of Benin and the international community, especially Germany, to rise up and curb the impunity of the Nigerian government by refusing any application for extradition of our client who already has application before ICC duly acknowledged’.”
But while it was not yet clear when he will be extradited because there is no official statement yet from the Nigerian government, eminent Yoruba leaders and groups have, however, expressed their feelings on Igboho’s arrest. Leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, told New Telegraph that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has declared war on the Yoruba people, lamenting the treatment of Igboho as a criminal. He said: “What has Sunday Igboho done? Is it because he was asking for separation and all that? Is that a criminal act? What have they done to those killing and bombing military jets? All the things they are doing for Sunday Igboho is criminal. They are treating him as if we are under dictatorship. “They invaded his house in the midnight, destroyed properties, killed people in his house and committed all forms of atrocities under what is supposed to be a democracy. It is all wrong. Buhari is using his dictatorship to suffer the country. They have declared war on our people and we won’t take it. This is an infringement on the fundamental rights of Sunday Igboho.” Also in a statement yesterday condemning Igboho’s arrest, the leader of Ilana Omo Oodua, Emeritus Professor Banji Akintoye, said he, alongside other Yoruba Patriots, are “currently working to provide assistance for Ighoho to prevent his extradition into Nigeria.” He also said that “leading lawyers in Benin Republic are now in charge.” Akintoye said: “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 all know he has committed no crime. “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.”
In a statement personally signed by Akintoye and made available to journalists on Tuesday by his Communications’ Manager, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, the professor called on all Yoruba people within and beyond the shores of Nigeria to come out and ensure that their ancestral land is not defeated by invaders. “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 provide the assistance necessary to 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 the Diaspora must stand strong, resolve that neither Sunday Igboho nor any other Yoruba person will henceforth be subjected to inhuman or 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 so as to be able to move and operate as a free person. We all know he has committed no crime. “We know that some people are trying to suppress or even eliminate him only because he stood up to defend his kinsmen, women and children who are being massively killed and raped in their ancestral home land; who are having their assets and means of livelihood destroyed, and who are facing ethnic cleansing and even genocide without having the benefit of protection by the rulers of their country.
“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 legallyappropriate step, namely to seek the intervention of the International Criminal Court,” Akintoye, said. On his part, Secretary General of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, said the freedom fighter activist should be responsibly handled by both the Nigerian and Benin Republic security agencies, adding that reasons for his arrest must be made public. He said: “It has not been made clear on who arrested him. Is it Nigerian or Benin Republic security agencies? Whatever his arrest, the world is a global village; he has to be made to go through normal trial if he has any case to answer. He must be arraigned in a proper court of law. We are hoping that he will not be manhandled in any way at all.
“He has to be made to face the normal processes of law; otherwise, he should be released, if there is nothing against him. We are waiting for details, and we will ensure that support is garnered for him,” he said. In another development, it was learnt that some Yoruba leaders have rallied support for Igboho, who has been arrested and blocking him from being extradited from Benin Republic to Nigeria. It was learnt that a meeting was said to have been held concerning the arrest of Igboho by some Yoruba elders and social cultural groups to prevent his extradition to Nigeria. It was also gathered that some lawyers have been mobilised to stop Igboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
The Federal Government had earlier claimed that the secession agitator was working at getting a new passport to flee the country for Germany. The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) was said to have placed noticed for his arrest across Nigerian borders for him to be arrested anywhere he is found. According to a source, the leaders of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress, Ilana Oodua, and other groups who petitioned the International Criminal Court are also involved in mobilising support for him.
In a copy of the petition sent to ICC and obtained by our correspondent, other groups involved in the agitation for the Yoruba Nation are Yoruba Strategy Alliance, Igbega Omo Oodua, Isokan Omo Oodua, United Yoruba Kingdom, Egbe Omo Yoruba, Oodua Foundation, Obirin Oodua Agbaye, Yoruba Intelligent Group, and Igbimo Omo Ijebu. Among others are Paramole Igbimo Agbaagba, Akoni Obirin Oodua, Concerned Omo Yoruba, Oduduwa Awareness Group, Oodua in Diaspora, Afonja Descendants of Apapo Yoruba Nation and Ile Agbara Oodua, and Egbe Idanileko.
The source said: “We met overnight and reached some resolutions which I may not be able to discuss. Most of us have not been able to communicate with Igboho since the Department of State Services raided his house but we heard the news of his arrest late on Monday. We have involved lawyers who are currently battling to stop his extradition. “What the lawyers told us is that Igboho is a political criminal and there is an extradition treaty between Nigeria and Benin Republic which does not support the Federal Government’s action.
While we expect the law to take its cause, most of us want Igboho’s right to be respected.” Meanwhile, a former presidential aide, Reno Omokri, has called for a fundraiser to cover Igboho’s legal fees. Reacting to the arrest on his verified Facebook page, Omokri called on Afenifere, and the Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba land, Gani Adams, to immediately organise a fundraiser to cover Igboho’s legal fees.
He wrote: “I am ready to publicly put my money where my mouth is. “Garba Shehu openly released a statement that Miyetti Allah deserves ‘respect’. Igboho also deserves respect, if not from the government, then from us, for defending Nigerians from killer herdsmen.
“In fact, any South-western politician that remains silent while Buhari is persecuting Igboho must be marked and punished in 2023!” On his part, the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has described as mind-boggling the arrest of Igboho, adding that the capture is a blatant case of ethnic discrimination by every democratic and civic governance standard. In a statement signed by its Chairman, Hon. Olawale Oshun and Secretary, Mr. Ayo Afolabi, the ARG said the Benin Republic, under international law, has an obligation to protect Adeyemo and ensure that he receives justice in whatever extradition process her court might be called to adjudicate upon.
“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 Yoruba land 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.
“This appears to be a blatant case of ethnic discrimination, by every democratic and civic governance standard. Mr. Adeyemo’s Ibadan home was viciously and illegally attacked in an unprecedented raid, and in a purportedly undemocratic setting without a valid search warrant. “The international community is being invited to note the raid on Mr. Adeyemo’s residence and that there is now abundant evidence that he would, if extracted to Nigeria, he would be denied justice. Benin Republic, under international law, has an obligation to protect Mr Adeyemo and ensure that he receives justice in whatever extradition process her court might be called to adjudicate upon.
“Afenifere Renewal Group invites the Central government to concentrate on solving the problems that precipitated all the crises presently confronting Nigeria rather than selectively bullying its citizens on the basis of ethnic nationality,” the statement reads.