From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Leader of the apex Yoruba self-determination group, Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO), Prof Banji Akintoye, on Sunday dismissed insinuation that he has fled Nigeria towards escaping alleged plots of the Federal Government of Nigeria to arrest him, based on the leading role he has been playing in the agitation for Yoruba nation.
He said he is not on the run, but currently in Republic of Benin in solidarity with a Yoruba nation activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, who was arrested in Cotonou, Benin Republic, last month when he attempted to travel to Germany. He was taken to court, and he has been remanded in prison custody pending the conclusion of investigation on charged preferred against him that included illegal entry of Benin Republic from Nigeria, and plan to cause pandemonium in Benin.
Akintoye, in a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday by his Communications Manager, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, said he is in the Francophone country to coordinate and supervise how to legally rescue Ighoho from government remand as soon as possible.
The Second Republic senator and an Emeritus Professor of History, said just like Ighoho, he has committed no offence against the Nigerian laws to warrant being arrested, intimidated or harassed.
Like a valiant soldier, Akintoye vowed to return to Nigeria as soon as Ighoho is released by the government of Benin Republic to continue the struggle for the actualisation of Yoruba Nation, saying “it is No Retreat, No Surrender”
“Myself, the President-General and Professor Wale Adeniran (Chairman) of Ilana Omo Oodua, are currently in the Republic of Benin as reported, but not on the run.
“We are here to supervise and coordinate, by all legal and and other means, the struggle for the release of our son and patriot, Sunday Adeyemo Igboho, detained by the government from custody.
“By demanding peaceful self-determination for the Yoruba nation, I am not breaking any law, since self-determination is recognised by the International and Nigerian laws to be an inalienable right of every nationality, large or small, in the world.
“I have earned a solid reputation as a highly respectable advocate of a peaceful self-determination struggle. I have even written a book on the subject, which is already being used as a manual by Yoruba self-determination advocates and organisations.
“Irrespective of what the Nigerian government may be planning against me, I want to say without any fear or intimidation that I will be returning to Nigeria immediately Ighoho is released from the custody. I can’t be intimidated because I’ve not committed any offence, just like Sunday Igboho.
“Let me tell all Yoruba people across the world that there’s no cause for alarm. I didn’t flee to anywhere. I am in Benin Republic, running your errands. The struggle is no retreat, no surrender.”
Akintoye also debunked the media reports stating that Igboho has been abandoned, and that the activist is personally funding the court cases against the Governments of Nigeria and Benin Republic to secure his (Ighoho) and his aides’ release.
“Socio-cultural and self-determination groups within and beyond the shores of Nigeria under my supervision paid for every dime spent in Cotonou, Lagos and Abuja respectively till date on the court cases.
“The only court case not under my co-ordination and supervision, and which the Yoruba socio-cultural and self-determination groups are not paying for is the one in Ibadan High Court, Oyo State.
“The lawyer handling the Ibadan case, Chief Yomi Aliyu, SAN, said we should leave it to him, and that we should not bother on the funding. But the Yoruba groups and patriots under my supervision are completely responsible for the funding of the court cases in Abuja, Lagos and Cotonou.”