Controversy trails Igboho’s arrest

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… Declare amnesty for Igboho — Ladoja tells FG

…FG ruthless on Ighoho, weak against bandits, others — Ozekhome

By Moses Adeniyi

Reports of the arrest of Yoruba Freedom Fighter, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, and his alleged release have continued to generate controversies.

Igboho who has been on the hunt list of the Nigerian security operatives and declared wanted by the Department of State Services (DSS) on Thursday, 1st of July, was reportedly arrested Monday night, in Benin Republic in an attempt to pick up a flight to Germany through the neighbouring Country.

President Muhammadu Buhari had said he would always respect the rights of Nigerians, but warned that separatist pushes are often violent with insurrection undertone that his government will not allow to fester.

Meanwhile, reports later surfaced of the alleged release of the activist who was said to have joined a flight to Germany later on Tuesday.

Reactions against the extradition of Igboho to the Nigerian authorities had trailed his arrest.

In a statement on Tuesday, Igboho’s lawyer, Yomi Alliyu (SAN), who confirmed the arrest, disclosed that the International Criminal Police (INTERPOL) Organisation arrested the agitator, alongside his wife, Ropo, in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

He mentioned that the Federal Government through INTERPOL seized Igboho and his wife, who is a German citizen, on Monday night at an airport in Benin Republic.

The senior advocate, who described the arrest of his client as shocking, called on the German and Beninese authorities as well as the international community “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 the International Criminal Court duly acknowledged.”

In his argument, Aliyu stated that: “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.

“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.”

Reaction from Nigerians in diaspora have also reflected resistance against extraditing the Yoruba agitator to the Nigerian authorities.

A renowned Historian and leader of the Umbrella Body of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, Emeritus Professor Banji Akintoye, who also confirmed the arrest of Chief Sunday Adeyemo,  said he, alongside other Yoruba patriots who are immediately available, are currently working to provide assistance for Ighoho to prevent his extradition into Nigeria, saying “Benin Republic is a land that respect the rules of law.”

In a statement personally signed by him and made available to Nigerian NewsDirect on Tuesday by his Communications Manager, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, Akintoye 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.

A group based abroad, Yoruba UK Governing Body, in reaction, urged the German Ambassador in Cotonou, Hans-Jorg Neumann, to stop the Governments of Benin Republic and Nigeria from extraditing Igboho to the office of the DSS in Abuja.

In a letter co-signed by its Executive Council Chief Officer, Adebayo Odusanya; and its Independent Council Chief Officer, Isaac Okebiorunkosi, titled, ‘Re: Urgent help for German resident innocently arrested abroad,’ the group said: “We seek urgent help from the German government and the German Embassy at the Republic du Benin where he was arrested on 19 July 2021 to prevent his extradition to Nigeria.

“Mr Adeyemo has his family based in Germany and this action against him is against his fundamental human rights and will result in traumatising them.

“Evidence demonstrates that the present government of Nigeria has no respect for the rule of law and are highly likely to dehumanise him as they are known to do.

“Mr Adeyemo is an activist for fair treatment for his native Yoruba people who are being continually killed, maimed, have their wives and women raped and their farms and properties destroyed.

“We, therefore, beseech you to take this matter forward with the urgency and gravity required of the situation.”

It was, however, reported that following pressure from the international community, the Beninese authorities released the freedom fighter who subsequently joined a flight to Germany on Tuesday.

It was learnt that Britain, Canada, France, Germany and the United States  mounted pressure on the Beninese authorities to foreclose handing over Igboho to the Nigerian authorities on the ground that he hardly would get justice with such extradition.

Similarly, a lawyer to Igboho, Mr Leesi Ebenezer Olanrewaju, who is based in the United States had earlier said there were strong indications Benin Republic will not transfer Igboho to Nigeria, stating that the authorities of the International Police and the Government of the Republic of Benin were ill disposed to return Igboho to Nigeria.

According to him, under international laws, Igboho is not seen to have committed any crime but merely fighting for self determination which is recognised under international law.

Mentioning that the Beninese authorities arrested Igboho following an alarm raised by the Nigerian Government, he said the British and German governments already have shown interest in the case.

He was quoted, “We are on top of the situation right now. We have successfully notified the British government on the dangers of letting Sunday Adeyemo returned to Nigeria where his life is at risk. We believe that before the end of today, Britain would have granted his request for asylum in good faith.”

Meanwhile, following reports of his release, the Yoruba Nation Global Directorate (YNGD) has expressed its appreciation to the government and people of Benin Republic for releasing Chief Adeyemo.

In a statement on Tuesday signed by its Director,  Princess Adeola Atayero Olamijulo, the group expressed gratitude to all those whose prayers, calls and participation culminated into the release of the activist.

The statement had partly disclosed that “Chief Adeyemo is on his way to his destination.”

YNGD in another release expressed disappointment over reporting false information on Chief Adeyemo release.

According to the statement, “Contrary to our earlier report that our brother, Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho was released by his Beninese lawyers.  It has since reached the Yoruba Nation Global Directorate that our source, though a respectable member of Yoruba society, got it wrong.

“The Directorate hereby offers an unreserved apology to our compatriots for the misinformation.

“We respectfully ask our people to know our motive was contrary to the innuendos being insinuated.  We feel as a responsible people the need to calm the nerves generated by our brother’s arrest thus we made a mistake on relying on a information which has now turned out to be false.

“We promise to be honest with our people no matter what.  We got the news wrong on this occasion and we kindly ask that you forgive us.”

Declare amnesty for Igboho – Ladoja tells FG

Meanwhile, former Oyo State Governor, Rashidi Ladoja, has told the Federal Government to grant amnesty to Igboho and leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), Nnamdi Kanu.

While addressing journalists in his Bodija residence on Tuesday, Ladoja said: “Federal government has declared amnesty for Boko Haram, they should also declare amnesty for Igboho and the IPOB leader.

“Just like Kanu, to some people, Sunday Igboho has also become a leader, people are agitating for what they believe in.

“Yoruba leaders including the Alaafin of Oyo have been complaining about atrocities committed by suspected herdsmen and nothing has been done to it till now.

“Boko Haram members were arrested a year ago by the government and have been released to the Borno State government.

“Sunday Igboho was created in the context of killings in Ibarapa axis of Oyo State. Nobody has been arrested for it and even if they were arrested, they were later released. That is why people resorted to self-help.”

FG ruthless on Ighoho, weak against bandits, others — Ozekhome

Human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has accused the Muhammadu Buhari-led government of chasing shadows with the arrest of the Yoruba Nation agitator and Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Ozekhome in a statement on Tuesday said Buhari’s administration abandoned AK-47-wielding armed bandits, Boko Haram terrorists, and other deadly insurgents, including ransom-taking kidnappers, only to be running after Igboho and Kanu.

The statement read, “The Federal government appears supersonically effective and efficacious when it comes to arresting and repatriating dissenters and challengers of its morbid nepotic and sectionalistic 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 on a daily basis. The Nigerian Nation appears captured by non-state actors.”

He noted that the Nigerian government has shown a tendency to maintain two separate laws for two regions.

He continued, “To me, this lopsided template demonstrates acute intolerance and ambivalence. It shows self-contradiction. It shows an inclination towards enforcing laws against certain people, against certain classes of people, while at the same time turning away the other eye in enforcing laws against the other preferred and pampered set of people.

“Such does not make a nation grow. Such does not make democracy work. Such does not build confidence and inclusiveness, the very reasons for the Igbohos and Nnamdi Kanus of this world. Such does not enjoin patriotism and the building of nationhood.

“The same government that is suddenly effective in the case of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho has never been able to capture kidnappers, armed bandits, and Boko Haram that are daily ravaging us, turning Nigeria into a sprawling field of human carnage. They take ransom. Innocent schoolchildren are paid for. Where is the same government when kidnappers are demanding that the parents of kidnapped children should now be feeding them in their kidnap dens?

“But, it suddenly becomes effective and audacious when it comes to arresting and even ambushing and attacking in their very homes, self-determination activists and crusaders. I am not impressed with this at all. The government may thump its chest for temporary gains. But, does this solve the problem? See this as merely pursuing butterflies while the house is on fire. Recall history: Major Kaduna Nzeogwu Chukwuma. Isaac Adaka Boro, Ken Saro-Wiwa. The Ogoni 5. Are we out of the woods? I do not think so. Or, do you?”