By Joseph Onyekwere, Onyedika Agbedo & Ameh Ochojila
Five days after the arrest of Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, at the Cardinal Bernardin International Airport, Cotonou, Benin Republic, it is becoming increasingly clear that the legal battle to either extradite him to Nigeria or hand him back his freedom might get protracted.
Yesterday, despite the presence of his lawyer and supporters at the Cour De’appal De Cotonou, the case was not heard. The trail judge had last Thursday adjourned the case to yesterday after ordering the release of his wife, Ropo, whom it ruled had not committed any offence.
One of Igboho’s lawyers, Yomi Aliu (SAN) told The Guardian that the case was not heard yesterday but was adjourned to Monday, July 26.
This is even as another of his counsels, Ibrahim David Salami, has clarified that Igboho was arrested with Nigerian and German passports contrary to claims that he was being tried for possessing a Beninise passport despite not being a citizen of the country.
Salami told BBC Yoruba that, “it is not true that Benin Republic passport was found on Sunday Igboho when he was arrested.
“What was found on him were Nigerian and German passport. His wife had only her German passport on her at the point of arrest.”
Meanwhile, Maxwell Adeleye, the Communications Manager of the umbrella body of Yoruba self-determination groups, Ilana Omo Oodua, has disclosed that Nigeria did not file any charge against Igboho when he was arraigned at the court on Thursday.
Adeleye, in a statement yesterday, said the lawyers handling the case reported after Thursday’s proceedings that lgboho could not be extradited to Nigeria.
The statement read: “Yesterday (Thursday) the court set Mrs. Adeyemo, lgboho’s wife, free since it has been found that she has committed no offence and there’s no complain whatsoever against her. Consequently, her German passport was returned to her.
“The lawyers handling the case reported after the proceedings that Chief Sunday Adeyemo lgboho cannot be extradited to Nigeria for two principal reasons: 1. That contrary to insinuations, Nigeria and Benin have no Extradition Agreement; 2. That Nigeria has not been able to come up with charges that could lead the court to order lgboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
“What Nigerian Government came up with were mere allegations against Ighoho such as trafficking in arms and inciting violence that could result in the social disturbance without evidence which the Government of Benin Republic considered spurious and untenable, and insufficient to warrant extradition.
“Lastly, the case has been adjourned till Monday, July 26 to allow the Nigerian Government bring up whatever evidence they may have, and Mr. lgboho has been taken back to the police custody.”
In a related development, a Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to produce the 12 detained associates of Igboho before it on July 29.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu gave the order yesterday after counsel to the applicants, Pelumi Olajengbesi, moved the ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CS/647/2021 dated July 7 and filed July 8.
Olajemgbesi had told the Court that the 12 associates of Igboho had been held incommunicado in an underground cell since their arrest on July 2.
The Judge also ordered the DSS boss to appear in court on the day to show cause why the court should not admit Igboho’s aides to bail conditionally or unconditionally.
The judge also granted the plea of the applicant, through the affidavit of urgency filed on why the matter should be heard expeditiously irrespective of the imminent court vacation.
The court said that it has taken into consideration the provisions of Sections 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as well as Section 32 of the Administration of Human Right Act and saw the need to interfere in the matter of the applicants.
Justice Egwuatu subsequently ordered parties in the matter to appear before him next week Thursday. Applicants in the matter are Abdulateef Ofeyagbe, Amoda Babatunde, Tajudeen Erinoyen, Diakola Ademola, Abideen Shittu, Jamiu Noah, and Ayobami Donald. Others are Adelabe Usman, Oluwapelimi Kunle, Raji Kazeem, Taiwo Opeyemi and Bamidele Sunday.
The two respondents in the matter are Director General of the DSS and the DSS. As the legal battle for the release of Igboho and his associates continues, leader of Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has declared that the Federal Government has no right to seek Igboho’s extradition from Benin Republic.
The 93-year-old, who spoke in a chat with Arise TV on Thursday monitored by The Guardian, said Igboho was leading a popular revolt, adding that the Federal Government was terrified of his popularity.
His words: “He (Igboho) is a political refugee. He didn’t commit any crime here. He didn’t waylay or kill anybody. He didn’t run away from anybody after committing a crime. He ran for his life because the-power-that-be wants to kill him because of his agitation, because he’s leading a popular revolt.
“When they see the crowd that Igboho is pulling at every meeting, that is what is terrifying them. Can Buhari summon the crowd that Igboho is summoning each time he holds a meeting, even with the fact that he (Buhari) gives money to who will attend the meeting, that is a rented crowd?
“You are looking for somebody’s life and you ask him to come and surrender himself. Who will do that? He has muzzled everybody. The press can’t talk and there is a limit to questions that broadcasters can ask now without them closing the station.”
Recall that in a bloody raid on Igboho’s Soka residence in Ibadan, Oyo State on July 1, this year, the DSS had arrested and detained 13 of his associates. Two of Igboho’s supporters later identified as Adogan and Alfa were also killed during the raid.