From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Following the recent news about the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, being critically ill with kidney-related ailment in Republic of Benin where he is currently being held, various Yoruba groups and elders have expressed deep concerns about the development.
They include the pan Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, Afenifere, as well as the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) and Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO). They warned about the danger of denying him access to good medical care and allowing him to die in captivity in foreign land.
Igboho had reportedly developed some health challenges, including kidney problem in Cotonou prison, where he is being remanded for alleged immigration offences, when he attempted to travel to Germany through the city’s airport.
Some of the groups that are worried by the development said they were planning consultations on how best to negotiate his freedom. They appealed to the government of Benin Republic to allow him access to medical help in any place of his choice. In a bid to form a united front on the issue, YCE said it would meet with the leader of Afenifere for discussions on possible way to intervene in his case and probably secure his release through diplomatic strategies.
Secretary-General of YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, who regretted that the body has no link with Igboho at the moment, noted that his group was making efforts to link up with Pa Ayo Adebanjo, the Afenifere leader, to try and reach the Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, Gen Tukur Buratai (retd) and see what could be done to get him freed.
National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Jare Ajayi, also pleaded with the government of Benin Republic to do all that is humanly possible and as soon as possible to release him to get medical help in a place of his choice.
He said: “From what we heard, he is looking in the direction of France or Germany. We plead with the government of Benin Republic to grant him the opportunity to get medical help there. In any case, it is the person that is alive and healthy that can stand trial or any other thing that is required.”
He also called for the acceleration of the judicial process. “We have confidence that Benin Republic that normally follows the rule of law, will ensure that justice is done,” he said. “Once it is established that Sunday Igboho did not contra vene any law and that for sure he is not a criminal, he will be let off the hook.”
The apex self-determination group in Yorubaland, Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO) under the leadership of Prof Banji Akintoye, said the group has been working with other organisations to secure freedom for him. But the Communications Secretary of IOO, Maxwell Adeleye, who initially told Saturday Sun that the strategies to get freedom for him were not for discussion on the pages of newspapers, later noted: “It is not that he is being held in police custody there,” he said. “He was remanded by an investigative judge. Unlike in Nigeria where the police do investigation, the judges there are also doing investigation because they don’t want the innocent to be punished. Whatever is happening there, it is the hand of the Nigerian government. If anybody tells you it is the government of Benin Republic that is holding Igboho, it is a lie. It is the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob. They are trying to use immigration issue to hold him down.”