From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Benin Republic government has filed fresh charges, including illegal migration to the country, dubious connivance with immigration officers and attempt to cause civil unrest, against Yoruba nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, before Palaise Du Justice, Court D’Appal, in Cotonou.
One of the counsels to Igboho, Ibrahim Salami, made this known,yesterday, in an interview with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Yoruba service in Cotonou.
Salami said the nine-man legal team that appeared before the court on Monday to defend Igboho were surprised that fresh charges were brought against him by the Beninese government, while the three charges from Nigeria were dropped.
“First, the judge ruled that Sunday Igboho entered into Benin Republic through an illegal means. They also want to investigate how Sunday Igboho conspired with others to enter Benin Republic through wrong means. They also want to know how long he has been in Benin Republic and his plans in the country. They also raised a charge on whether he wants to come and cause unrest or social disturbance in Benin Republic.”
Salami said trials in Beninese courts usually follow three stages. The first stage, he said, is with the prosecutor, who is a judge, while the second stage is with a judge that will investigate the case. The third stage, he said is with the judge that would determine whether the accused person should be put in prison custody or not pending the determination of the case.
He said the three initial allegations against Igboho that were argued at the first two stages of the trail bordered on gunrunning and stockpiling of arms to cause war in Nigeria, while the second allegation had to do with inciting people to destabilise Nigeria. The third allegation, he said, was based on purported moves by Igboho to break up Nigeria into two or three countries.
Salami said it was a surprise to the legal team to note that other allegations were brought against Igboho at the third stage.
He said with the new development, Igboho now has a case with the government of Benin Republic, revealing that Nigeria neither filed any charge against Igboho, nor was it represented at the court proceedings on Monday in Cotonou.
The judge at the third stage, according to Salami, was the one that ruled that Igboho should be remanded in prison custody pending the conclusion of investigation into the fresh charges brought against him by Benin Republic.
He said the case against Igboho has not reached the final determination stage, as the legal team would have to go back to the judge at the second stage to know the adjournment date. Salami said the fresh allegations against Igboho are serious crimes in Benin Republic.
He said Igboho sustained injury when he jumped the perimeter fence of his house to escape the raid on his house on July 1, 2021, adding that the injury prevented him to stand up for a long time in the court on Monday. He said he was given a chair to sit on, while the trial was ongoing, and that he would require medical attention.