The Republic of Benin has resisted Nigeria’s attempts to hastily extradite the Yoruba nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, to the headquarters of the Department of State Services in Abuja.
Media reports gathered that the Federal Government planned to extradite the activist on Wednesday (yesterday), but Benin Republic insisted that it would not be part of any process that was against due process.
A security source in the West African country, who spoke to the media, said, “The Nigerian government planned to extradite him on Wednesday, but our government said the rule of law must be followed as the world is watching us.”
One of the lawyers of Igboho, Pelumi Olajengbesi, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said Benin Republic had shown itself to be a country that respects the rule of law and due process.
The lawyer said Igboho’s legal team in Benin Republic were in talks with the Beninise government.
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He noted that despite pressure from the Nigerian government, the government of Benin had insisted on following due process including a repatriation hearing to determine whether or not Igboho was guilty as accused by the Nigerian secret police.
The DSS on February 26, 2021, attempted to arrest Igboho along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway when the activist and his supporters were on their way to meet with the 93-year-old Afenifere chieftain, Ayo Adebanjo, but pandemonium broke out and the DSS was unable to arrest him.However, the secret police raided Igboho’s residence in the Soka area of Ibadan on July 1, 2021, arrested at least 12 of his associates and killed two others during the bloody raid.
Igboho escaped the raid and the secret police subsequently declared him wanted for allegedly stockpiling arms to destabilise Nigeria under the pretext of the Yoruba nation agitation, but Igboho denied the allegation. Fear has since then gripped many of his aides and supporters after this, and they are said to have gone into hiding or are on the run. Reports name a particular Emmanuel Adebayo one of those on the run.
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The activist himself who went underground was, however, apprehended by Interpol at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, Benin Republic on Monday night.
Igboho and his wife, Ropo, were arrested while trying to catch a flight to Germany. The government beefed up security at Iwajowa, Saki West and Ibarapa local government areas of Oyo State which were adjoining areas to Benin Republic.
According to the report, the Nigerian government foresaw the possibility of Igboho flying to Europe through Benin Republic and planted a landmine for him in the country through its Ambassador to Benin Republic, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.).
It was also reported that Buratai, the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, had also been pushing for the extradition of Igboho to Abuja but Igboho’s lead counsel, Yomi Aliyyu (SAN), noted that his client could not be extradited because the 1984 Extradition Treaty between Nigeria, Benin and two others excluded political refugees like Igboho and his wife.
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A member of Igboho’s legal team, Olajengbesi said that Igboho and his wife, a German citizen, were still in police custody in Cotonou and his lawyers were meeting with the government to argue their case.
He said, “The disposition of Benin Republic is that it is a country that respects the rule of law. We are making efforts that he is not repatriated wrongly to Nigeria. We are ensuring that everything is done in accordance with the law and we are very hopeful that we would succeed because we expect that there should be a repatriation hearing before they can extradite him if at all they would do that.”
A source familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said, “The Nigerian government has made attempts to get him (Igboho) but Benin Republic didn’t release him. The Nigerian government has asked him but the Beninise government has not released him because the latter has not even identified him as a Nigerian. The only instrument they can use to identify him as a Nigerian is the passport but that is not what was found with him.
“The Nigerian government is still quiet two days after the arrest because it does not have control over the situation. There is a procedure that the law establishes including a repatriation hearing to determine whether the person in question has committed the offence and why he or she should be repatriated or not.”
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