From Molly Kilete, Abuja, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan and Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Leading lawyers, yesterday, swung into action to avert the repatriation of Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemi popularly known as Sunday Igboho to Nigeria from Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
They claimed the way his house was raided by the Department of State Security (DSS) in collaboration with other security agencies in the early hours of June 1 showed he would not get justice if extradited to Nigeria.
They also said he had not committed any offence arguing that he was merely fighting for freedom for his people and self-determination which is recognised under the United Nations charter.
Leader of the umbrella body of Yoruba self-determination groups, Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO), Emeritus Prof Banji Akintoye, also said frontline Yoruba patriots were working to provide assistance, saying, “Benin Republic is a land that respect the rules of law.”
He spoke amidst viral rumour that he had been released. It was even accompanied with a photograph aboard an aeroplane purportedly on his way to Germany, which his lawyer has denied
The activist was arrested alongside his wife, Ropo, a German citizen by men of the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) while trying to board a flight to Germany Monday night.
Meanwhile, a lawyer based in Texas, United States of America, Leesi Ebenezer Olarewaju, has ruled out the possibility of his repatriation.
He said: “Sunday Adeyemo can only be returned back to Nigeria if only he is found to have broken any law in Benin Republic. Sunday Igboho, as we know, did not break any law in Benin. He was arrested under false alarm raised by the Nigerian government.
“We are on top of the situation right now. We have successfully notified the British government on the dangers of letting Sunday Adeyemo be returned to Nigeria where his life is at risk. We believe that before the end of today (yesterday), Britain would have granted his request for asylum in good faith.”
Corroborating him, Igboho’s lead counsel, Yomi Alliyu (SAN), said he cannot be extradited to Nigeria because of the extradition treaty of 1984 between Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and Republic of Benin.
He condemned the arrest which he described as impunity and called on the government of Germany, Benin Republic and the international community “to rise up and curb the impunity of the Nigerian government by refusing any application for extradition of our Client who already has application before the International Criminal Court duly acknowledged.”
His statement read: “It is a shocking news that Nigerian Government has gotten Chief Sunday Adeyemo a.k.a Sunday Igboho Oosa arrested by INTERPOL in Republic of Benin notwithstanding the political nature of his offence and what the DSS earlier said that they refrained from arresting him so as not to overheat the polity of Southwestern Nigeria.
“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 are 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.
“Secondly, that he cannot get Justice or even be killed is apparent in how those arrested in his house were detained for more than 21 days now without access to their lawyers. Even the wife among them could not change her undies for 21days! Which inhuman treatment can be more this?
“Again, another wife of our client Mrs Ropo Adeyemo, a German Citizen, has been arrested together with her husband in Cotonou. What offence has she committed to warrant this?
“We urge the good government of the Republic of Benin and international community, especially Germany, to rise up and curb the impunity of the Nigerian Government by refusing any application for extradition of our Client who already has application before ICC duly acknowledged.”
Similarly, Akintoye called on all Yoruba people within and beyond the shores of Nigeria to come out and ensure their ancestral land is not defeated by invaders.
“What the situation now calls for is that the Yoruba nation at home and in Diapora must stand strong, resolved that neither Sunday Igboho, nor any other Yoruba person will henceforth be subjected to inhuman or dehumanizing treatment of any kind.
“We Yoruba nation are, by the grace of God, a very strong nation. We must arise now to show that strength. For a start, we must all see to it now that Sunday Ighoho will get his freedom back so as to be able to move and operate as a free person. We all know he has committed no crime.
“We know that some people are trying to suppress or even eliminate him only because he stood up to defend his kinsmen, women and children who are being massively killed and raped in their ancestral home land; who are having their assets and means of livelihood destroyed, and who are facing ethnic cleansing and even genocide without having the benefit of protection by the rulers of their country.
“We know, furthermore, that for the protection of his people who are being brutalized, he has joined hands with many of his brethren to take the legally-approriate step, namely to seek the intervention of the International Criminal Court.”
Reacting, the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), in a statement by its chairman, Olawale Oshun and secretary, Ayo Afolabi, described Igboho as one of the leading activists against the unmitigated terror of herdsmen.
•Juju has failed, Joe Igbokwe taunts
However, Joe Igbokwe, chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday mocked Igboho.
Igbokwe sharing a photograph of Igboho wearing charms on his Facebook wall, taunted the Yoruba separatist leader’s repeated bragging about his indomitability as an African traditional worshiper – often referred to as Juju – in separate instances where security forces tried to arrest him and he escaped.
Igbokwe, who also taunted IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu after he was arrested and flown to Nigeria from Kenya, likened Igboho’s arrest to the arrest of several IPOB members who also bragged about the potency of charms they wore as protection against police and soldiers attempting to arrest them.
The aide to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State wrote: “Juju no de work again ooo. It failed in Igboland and it failed too in Yoruba and.”
•God’ll disgrace those running after him –Cleric
Not minding the taunt, a Christian cleric, Adewale Giwa has said God would disgrace those running after Igboho.
Giwa, who is the senior pastor of Awaiting the Second Coming of Christ Ministry, Akure, said Igboho is a hero and should not be treated as a common criminal.
“No cause for concern because the Lord will rise and disgrace those who want Sunday Igboho dead or incarcerated with a view to allowing their Fulani kinsmen take over the country.
“You came to somebody’s house without prior notice, destroyed his property, killed his people and arrested others. Yet, you are still running after him just because he is fighting against the Fulani killers who continue to murder and molest our people.
“Do not rob the poor because he is poor or crush the afflicted at the gate; For the Lord will plead their case and take the life of those who rob them. The Lord who stood with Ehud, Othniel, Gideon and other freedom fighters in the Scripture will stand by Sunday Adeyemo and defeat those running after his life.”