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Saturday, September 18, 2021

EXTRADITION BATTLE: Sunday Igboho back in cell as Beninese court adjourns


*Supporters assemble at Beninese court, Igboho’s wife released

*Why FG can’t arm-twist Benin Republic to extradite Igboho — Akinterinwa

*Yoruba leaders in talks with Benin Republic —YCE

*Why Igboho can’t be extradited without due process — FALANA, ERUGO, others

By Dapo Akinrefon, Deputy Regional Editor, South-West & Deola Badru  with agency reports

The Cour D’Appel De Cotonou in Benin Republic, yesterday, adjourned the case involving Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, fondly called Sunday Igboho, till today.

Igboho is believed to have been arraigned on immigration-related offences.

After the adjournment, neither Igboho’s lawyers nor the Beninese counsel spoke on what transpired in the court, BBC Yoruba reports.

Igboho and his wife have been in custody since their arrest at Cardinal Bernardin International Airport, Cotonou, as they attempted to board a flight to Germany  Monday night.

He was declared wanted by the Department of State Service, DSS, earlier in July after a raid on his Ibadan house.

Two people were killed by the DSS in the late-night raid, while 12 other persons were arrested and later paraded in Abuja. They have since been charged to court.

There were, however, reports that the Federal Government was mounting pressure on the Beninese government to extradite Igboho to Nigeria to face charges of alleged possession of firearms.

Also, Vanguard was reliably informed that a helicopter was stationed in the court premises with the hope that the ruling will be in favour of the Federal Government. It was also gathered last night that Igboho’s wife, Ropo, had been released by Beninese authorities.

Supporters assemble at Benin court

Earlier, supporters of Igboho were seen in large numbers at Cour D’Appel De Cotonou premises, ahead of the Igboho’s arraignment.

The Yoruba-speaking supporters demanded that Igboho should not be returned to Nigeria, saying that he had committed no offence.

Similarly, the Yoruba nation protesters in London stormed the British parliament to protest the arrest of the activist.

In a live video by Heritage media on Facebook, the protesters were seen with the Yoruba nation flag, placards and branded T-shirts with inscriptions such as  #Leave Our freedom fighters alone, stop extrajudicial killings in southern Nigeria, Free Sunday Igboho, I stand with Sunday Igboho.

An unnamed speaker urged the supporters of the activist to be calm, saying “Igboho has not gone back to Germany as has been speculated. He is still in Cotonou.

“We are calling on the regime of Muhammadu Buhari to leave our freedom fighters alone. We are tired of the killings in Yorubaland. Enough is enough.”

Why FG can’t arm-twist Benin Republic to extradite Igboho — Akinterinwa

However, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Professor Bola Akinterinwa, has said that the Federal Government cannot arm-twist Benin Republic into extraditing Sunday Igboho.

Akinterinwa said: “At the level of Benin Republic, if you are talking about arm-twisting, an elephant, even a lion, as big and powerful as it is, if it is bitten by a small mosquito, then you can know the consequences. It is not a question that Nigeria is big and powerful that you can arm-twist anybody. No, it doesn’t work that way.

“The relationship between the Benin Republic and Nigeria is not determined only at the level of the Benin Republic. Benin Republic is Francophone, which means that it is dealing with France and the relationship at the level of France and Nigeria you can understand it without any rocket science.

“The French government does not want the government of Nigeria to have the capacity to use the Benin Republic or the Francophone neighbours to the detriment of French interest in West Africa as much as the government of Nigeria won’t want to be used by the Francophone neighbours against Nigeria’s interest in the immediate neighbourhood.

“So, even if you close borders all along, borders are not closed against the immediate neighbours, they are also closed against the French. So, any battle, any arm-twisting that you are thinking of should be put in the context of French interest and particularly the Francophone interest.

“Any misunderstanding between a Francophone country – whether an immediate neighbour or far distant neighbour – is necessarily an issue at the level of Nigeria and the Francophone community; they think alike, they work together, they address issues together.”

Yoruba leaders in talks with Benin Republic — YCE

Also, the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, said it has begun consultations with prominent lawyers in the Republic of Benin to ensure justice for Igboho.

Speaking with Vanguard yesterday, Secretary-General of YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, insisted that Igboho has not committed any offence in Nigeria which would warrant his arrest and detention.

Olajide said: “Yoruba leaders are linking up with prominent lawyers in the Republic of Benin, who have been working day and night to ensure that justice is done. That is very important to us.

“We are concerned about what is going on. To the best of our knowledge, we don’t see anything Igboho has done to breach the rules of either Nigeria or the Republic of Benin.

“To the best of our knowledge, we are reliably told that Igboho ran for his dear life because it was clearer to him that his life was at stake.

“If he has breached any law of that country, then they must bring him to face charges otherwise, he should be released.”

Source: Vanguard News Nigeria

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