Lead agitator for self-determination for Yoruba ethnic group, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, insists he has not committed any offence to warrant trial by the Beninese government.
Speaking exclusively with Sunday Vanguard, through his lead counsel, Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN), at the weekend, Igboho noted that the Beninese government was only acting on Nigeria’s directive.
This came as the agitator spends his 117th day in Benin prison today.
Igboho had been arrested on Monday, July 19, 2021, by the International Criminal Police Organisation at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, the Republic of Benin on his way to Germany.
He had apparently fled Nigeria after a bloody raid on his Soka residence in Ibadan, Oyo State by the Department of State Service (DSS) which accused him of stockpiling arms.
The following Thursday, July 21, he was arraigned before the Cour D’Appel De Cotonou which adjourned the case till the following Monday when it further adjourned indefinitely on the grounds that it was investigating the case against the activist.
The court ordered that he should be remanded in a facility in the country pending the conclusion of the investigation.
Meanwhile, there were speculations that the Federal Government was making moves to extradite him to Nigeria to face terrorism charges.
But the Federal Government, through The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, said, last week, that it was not opposed to political solution to the Igboho case and that of the IPoB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, currently being tried in an Abuja court for terrorism.
Alliyu told Sunday Vanguard yesterday following the prolonged resumption of the case against the activist in the Benin court: “lgboho is still in Cotonou, he is not facing any trial as far as Nigeria is concerned.
“He is not facing any trial. Nigeria is dictating whatever they want Cotonou to do. “But that’s not withstanding, he is not facing any trial. He has not committed any offence. He went to Cotonou with ECOWAS passport and he is not facing any trial there.
“As I usually say, Cotonou is Nigeria’s 37th state. When they sneeze in Nigeria, they catch cold in Cotonou. Igboho has not committed any offence that will make him to face any trial in Cotonou.
“He can be in Cotonou as long as he wishes on ECOWAS protocol. So he has no trial in Cotonou.”
Also, speaking on the trial of lgboho, the apex leader of the umbrella body of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, Ilana Omo Oodua, Professor Banji Akintoye, said the judiciary system in Benin Republic is different from the one we practice in Nigeria, saying an investigative judge remanded him.
Akintoye, speaking through his Communication Manager, Maxwell
Adeleye, said: “Here in Nigeria, it is the police, EFCC or DSS that investigate and take matters to court but, over there, they have a judge that investigates after the police must have leveled their own allegation.
“The judge will now investigate and table his findings before a judge that will do the trial.
“l am quoting what Ibrahim Salami, one of his (Igboho) lawyers over there said. Then the trial judge will table his ruling before another judge who will give judgment.
“So the investigative judge said he is still investigating and the court remanded him.
“But we know that the Nigerian government is the one behind it. We all know Benin Republic is the 37th state of Nigeria and they rely so much on Nigeria on trade.
“Ninety percent of the people who do business in Cotonou, if properly investigated, they are there because of Nigerians.
“Benin is trying not to lose trade while protecting Igboho but we want to commend their courage of the government of Benin Republic not to handover Sunday Igboho to the Nigerian government illegally.
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“Immediately Igboho was arrested, a helicopter was already there to fly him to Nigeria but the Benin government refused.
“So as I speak to you now, there is no allegation against Igboho, it is only on paper. It is a paper allegation.
“No formal charge, no request for extradition from the Nigerian government against Igboho.
“Igboho is not being remanded over the case of threat to Nigeria.
“It is about the reason why he is in their country, to know if he is in the country to cause unrest or something.
“That’s what they are investigating, we thought by October everything will be resolved but we are now in November. I’m very sure very soon we will record victory in his case.
“I don’t have much to say about that but what we can say is that the Nigerian government is the one attacking and harassing Benin Republic to release Igboho to them”.
Speaking on the Yoruba nation agitation, the octogenarian politician said: “The struggle continues, the awareness is already there, everyone knows that the Yoruba people have made it known officially that we want to leave Nigeria.
“Before, it was the Biafran people that people know, but now the Yoruba people are officially known for the Yoruba nation.
“What the Nigerian government is doing through the likes of Malami, they are the ones now doing publicity for us.
“We know their propaganda, it is just that we can’t be discussing our own strategies on the pages of newspapers but the Yoruba nation struggle is still very much on”.
Also, the spokesman for Igboho, Mr. Olayomi Koiki, said there was never a time the agitation for Yoruba nation was down played.
Koiki said: “We will never be deterred or derailed. Agitation for Yoruba nation is still on course.
“All Yoruba leaders are working day and night on the agitation, but I will not tell you exactly our next line of action. We will surprise everybody.
“We will keep our cards close to our chests till the appropriate time comes to make our plans known to the public. It’s not about engaging in rallies again.”
In a related development, Adeleye said Akintoye is fine and resting in Benin Republic.
“I want to tell you that Prof. Akintoye is okay, only that he is an old man. He will be 87 in February 2022, so he needs to take it easy.
“We need him more and those of us who are his lieutenants even envy his strength. He holds meeting from 7am sometime till 1am the following day. That’s the kind of leader we have.
“He is fine where he is, it is just that he needs rest, so he is resting and refreshing for the betterment of the Yoruba people.
“As per those who say he is leading a movement and he is not even in the country, Tinubu, Fayemi, Soyinka, Enahoro and the rest led the struggle against Abacha regime while on exile and it was even from Europe and America, not Benin Republic.
“Prof Akintoye is close to us, he is in Benin Republic which is just 45minutes drive to Nigeria”.