By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, has condemned in strong terms the arrest of Yoruba Nation activist Chief Sunday “Igboho” Adeyemo in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
Reacting in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, Iba Adams urged the Federal Government not to trivialise issues of the activists, explaining that popular agitation for an independent Yoruba nation-state has come to the fore recently because of growing injustice, nepotism, corruption and maladministration in the various sectors of the country.
Adams declared that the Federal Government must be fair in handling Igboho’s case and that of other Yoruba independence activists.
‘I feel bad when the news of his arrest broke out on Monday evening and I started monitoring unfolding events. But I think the FG should be fair to the young man because any attempt to trivialise issues of agitations might set this nation on fire. For example, the issue of self-determination didn’t come up overnight. It was a result of the long years of injustice, nepotism, and corruption occasioned by bad leadership. So, the FG will be making a big mistake if it decides to treat agitators of the Yoruba Nation as common criminals or enemies,’ Adams stated.
‘Igboho has a right to his freedom. There is nothing bad for him to seek asylum in the Republic of Benin, and he is entitled to seek refuge in a foreign land if he thinks his safety cannot be guaranteed here in Nigeria. He is still a freedom fighter and had never been violent in the struggle. So, FG must stop hunting him around like a common criminal. He deserves his liberty under the law, that is why the Federal Government must handle his case with a lot of care. Besides, the Government of the Republic of Benin has a duty to also protect him under the law.
‘The extradition treaty of 1984 between Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and Republic of Benin excluded political fugitives. It also states that where the fugitive will not get justice because of discrimination and/or undue delay in prosecution the host country should not release the fugitive.
‘Now, Article 20 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which the four countries were signatories made agitation for self-determination a fundamental right to be protected by all countries. This made Chief Sunday Adeyemo a political offender who cannot be deported and/or extradited by the good people of the Republic of Benin for any reason.
‘Igboho’s case is gradually exposing FG’s plan to clamp down on all agitators and that is undemocratic,
and also capable of turning govt to the tyranny of the majority, especially from a government that came to power with a lot of hope and support from the people of the South West.
‘Right to self-determination is also entrenched in Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on People’s Rights.’
Adams urged the Federal Government to work out a well-defined and articulate modality to accommodate the views of other well-meaning Nigerians, saying:
‘Democracy thrives when there is a free and fair election. In other climes, transparency is an integral part of the election process. But here in Nigeria, it is a different ball game because we usually shy away from the reality of the present situation in the world. However, we cannot continue to live as if we are in the dark ages when there was no access to information when there were no communication facilities like mobile phones and other facilities. This is the 21st century, and it is an information age where countries of the world live and thrive on information. Therefore, it is sad to know that our lawmakers, who daily use mobile phones, operate mobile banking systems with various network services, are now giving unnecessary excuses on the use of electronic transmission of election results. It is sad.’