Insecurity: The ‘ding-dong’ over Sunday Igboho
Before the arrest of Sunday Adeyemo, popularly called Sunday Igboho at Cotonou Airport with his wife, Ropo, on their way to Germany on Monday night, he had been at the forefront of demanding an independent nation of Yoruba people.
Apart from this, he had engaged in defence of his ancestral land and in defence of men, women and children who have been under unprecedented and unprovoked siege by the suspected herdsmen who kill, maim and destroy farmlands in the South-West states.
It is no longer news the level of atrocities being perpetrated by the killer herdsmen against unarmed innocent citizens in the South West and in some other places across the country, particularly, the south.
The recent Igangan killings and others in Oyo State bring to the fore how bad the security situation in the country has become.
Federal Government’s alleged insensitivity to the plight of her citizens following daily kidnappings, raping, maiming and butchering has angered many Nigerians.
A number of governors, whose states have become centres of rendezvous for terrorists, have continued to call out the Federal Government. They have also accused Abuja of being complicit in the atrocious deeds of killer herdsmen and other assorted dangerous elements in the North.
Those who point fingers at Abuja have their reasons.
Whereas those who wield AK-47, known kidnappers, murderers, heartless rapists, and land-grabbers are roaming the streets, highways, forests occupying other people’s farmlands with impunity, the government is busy persecuting those who dare protect themselves from invaders’ attacks.
The heightening provocation compelled Adeyemo to hearken to the cries and agonies of Yoruba people who are under terrible threat of annihilation.
Since his agitation for the Yoruba nation and threat to the Fulani herdsmen in some parts of Yorubaland, Igboho has been labelled a secessionist and a criminal by the government and its agencies.
The Department of State Security (DSS) raided his Ibadan residence on July 1st this year in which he was accused of stockpiling arms to destabilise Nigeria but he has since denied the allegation.
Two people were killed by the DSS in the late-night raid while 12 others were arrested and later paraded in Abuja. They have since been charged to court while Igboho was later declared wanted by the DSS.
However, news of the arrest of the Yoruba Nation activist alongside his wife, Ropo, filtered in on Monday, around 8 pm by the International Criminal Police Organisation at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou when the couple wanted to catch a flight to Germany.
The activist, who is presently standing trial for likely immigration-related offences, was brought to Cour De’appal De Cotonou, Benin Republic last Thursday.
After a six-hour hearing, the Benin Republic court remanded the activist but released his wife, who was said to have committed no offence and there’s no complaint whatsoever against her. Her German passport was also returned to her.
The lawyers handling Igboho’s case reported after the proceedings that the activist cannot be extradited to Nigeria for two principal reasons:
That contrary to insinuations, Nigeria and Benin have no Extradition Agreement.
That the Nigerian government has not been able to come up with charges that could lead the court to order lgboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
What the 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, untenable, and insufficient to warrant extradition.
The case was adjourned till Monday 26th July to allow the Nigerian Government to bring up whatever evidence they may have; meanwhile, lgboho remains in police custody.
Oladipupo Satar Omolola, a barrister, said his possible extradition to Nigeria will be dependent on treaties and international laws.
He said that Igboho can be prosecuted under Cotonou national laws for his offences against the nation, saying that his application for asylum in Cotonou, may be used to excuse his crime depending on the perspectives of the presiding judge.
“Nonetheless, the nations have an obligation under international laws not to push off-board any lawful applicant for Asylum like Igboho, a Nigerian citizen, wanted under the laws, and an immigration offender in Cotonou where he entered without papers and is alleged to be carrying a fake Cotonou travel document,” he said.
Omolola of Global Legal Consults, with offices in Los Angeles and Lagos, said Benin Republic, Cotonou, Germany and Nigeria have bilateral/multilateral treaties and understanding to render mutual assistance to apprehend fleeing criminals.
“In the final analysis, it is the weight that Germany or Nigeria is able to bring upon Benin Republic that will determine if he will be extradited to Nigeria where he is wanted or Germany where he is purportedly a resident or citizen.
“But Benin Republic is praying for time to take a decision, hence the temporary application of its national laws to Igboho,” he said.
The legal practitioner said the trilemma of conflicts of interest of three nations and the guaranteed rights of an individual in international law is technically said to be governed by body of laws, but largely, it’s a diplomatic relations.
On his part, Yomi Aliyu (SAN), lawyer to the Yoruba Nation agitator, has argued why his client cannot be extradited to Nigeria.
Aliyu said that Igboho cannot be extradited because of a treaty with Benin on political offenders.
While saying that Igboho is a political offender, he pointed out that the treaty is categorical that any political offender unlikely to get justice at home should not be extradited to home country.
He added that lawyers in Benin Republic would be engaged to defend Igboho’s rights against extradition.
He said: “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 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 21days now without access to their lawyers. Even the wife among them could not change her undies for 21days! Which inhuman treatment can be more than 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 an application before ICC duly acknowledged.”
President, Women Arise and Centre for Change, Joe Okei-Odumakin, in her reaction, expressed fear that the activist would not get justice if extradited to Nigeria.
She noted that his wellbeing was also under threat because “It is not debatable that Igboho will come to grief if he is extradited to Nigeria under the prevailing circumstances.”
Kunle Okunade, a Lagos-based political analyst, said: “The way and manner the government handles the issue will further determine how Nigeria would be perceived by the international community. For me, there are other cogent internal issues of concern like the banditry and insurgency that seriously need the attention of the government than chasing Igboho who only agitates against social injustice, unfairness, and unbalanced nature of our system.”
Okunade further urged the Buhari administration to exercise caution in handling the issue.
“Well, it is an issue that needs to be addressed carefully by the Nigeria, government considering the implication of it to the image of the country and international relations. I still don’t know why the Federal Government will be hell-bent on extraditing Igboho when according to reports he had already filed for political asylum abroad,” he said.
Similarly, former national publicity secretary of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Adeola Adeoye wondered why the Buhari administration would leave the security crisis bedeviling the country and be targeting Igboho.
“The way the Federal Government is handling the Igboho case is not the best way to go.
Buhari as an elderly man, no matter his hard style of leadership, he should know that there must be caution in handling some issues, including how he treats agitators such as Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu who are agitators and not Miyetti Allah, Boko Haram, bandits or Fulani herdsmen.
“There wouldn’t have been any need for agitation in the first place, if every region were carried along and not treated like second class citizens in their own country. Look at how Boko Haram insurgents are roaming about freely and shooting down our jets; wiping them away should be the top priority of the government and not going after agitators”.
Adeoye strongly believes that “Intimidating agitators cannot quell their demand but peaceful engagement, to listen to their grouse and find a way to resolve them. In the case of Sunday Igboho, he only called for a stoppage of killing and maiming by the terrorists in South-West Nigeria. The government should be focusing on chasing away and dealing with the terrorists that invaded places like Igangan. But nothing has been done about them.”