Igboho chained like animal in Cotonou, lawyer alleges

•May appear in court today •Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Ohanaeze, Ozekhome blast FG

FOLLOWING the arrest of Chief Sunday Adeyemo (aka Sunday Igboho) on Monday, his legal representative, Chief Yomi Alliyu has alleged that his client is facing inhuman treatment, as his legs and hands are allegedly tied like an animal in police custody in Cotonou, Republic of Benin. 

The lawyer, in a statement he released on Tuesday, claimed that Igboho is being treated less than an animal in police custody, based on what he termed “order from above,” and may appear before a court today for an extradition order. 

“Just about three minutes ago, I got a call from a reliable source from the authorities in the Republic of Benin that Sunday Igboho has been put in a very dehumanising condition in a police cell in Cotonou. 

“The source told me that they are under instruction by an order from the above that Igboho should be chained like an animal waiting to be slaughtered. He told me that Igboho was tightly chained to the floor and he is in serious pains. 

“While I was talking to the source by telephone, I can hear our client crying and asking that the chains be removed and that he is in pains. But I can hear one officer telling him that they cannot remove the chains as they are acting on instruction,” he said in the statement. 

Alliyu insisted that the extradition order being sought by the Nigerian authorities may not likely sail through, given the status of Igboho as a political offender. 

“I know that our client, Chief Sunday Adeyemo (aka Sunday Igboho Oosa), would be taken to a court in Cotonou, the capital of the Republic of Benin, tomorrow [today]. 

“The Nigerian authorities and security operatives that arrested him would be approaching the court for an extradition order to bring Sunday Igboho back to Nigeria. 

“But it is not likely that the extradition order being sought for would sail through. This is because of the status of our client as a political offender who enjoys immunity against extradition. Like I said in a press release earlier today, even his arrest by security operatives was against the political nature of his offence. 

“There is an existing ex- tradition treaty between four West African countries of Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Benin Republic, which grants Igboho immunity from being extradited from the Republic of Benin. 

“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. 

“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,” he said. 

The lawyer had earlier on Tuesday issued a statement wherein he detailed the travails of his client. 

He said, “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 ar- resting him so as not to over-heat the polity of southwestern Nigeria. 

“It is advisable for the INTERPOL and Benin Republic to be aware of the savagery acts committed in our client’s house in the wee hours of July 1, 2021; between 1.00 a.m. and 3.00 a.m.; shooting their way through and killing two people in the process and maliciously damaging his properties in the course of that illegal invasion. 

“Though the invading DSS officers did not state any reason for their invasion to our client, before or during invasion, they later paraded 13 people and ammunition which our client denied being his, as he is a peaceful campaigner for self-determination, and it is on good record that the guns and ammunition displayed were the same displayed in 2013 in another instance. 

“This could be seen on 2013 Facebook though DSS has dismissed this on their website. But what they cannot deny is that when they were leaving our client’s house, they left with two corpses and people arrested and nothing more except two guns, belonging to the police escorts of Mr Adisa Saheed Olalekan. 

“One of the people they killed was one Mr Saheed Adisa Olalekan of Oladams Motors, Osogbo, who came to Sunday Igboho’s house to discuss auto business. He came with two police escorts. Though the policemen were not among the people paraded to the public, their guns were among those displayed.” 

He claimed that Igboho cannot get justice if he is extradited to Nigeria, adding that those arrested in his house had been detained for more than 21 days without access to their lawyers. “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,” he had stated. 

The news of his detention came after he had earlier been reported to have escaped to Germany with his wife, Ropo, though his lawyer had insisted that he was not aware of his release. Nigerian government has also maintained a sealed lip about the drama of his arrest. 

The freedom fighter is on the wanted list of the Nigerian government, with the International Police (INTERPOL) expected to pick him up wherever he is seen and extradited to Nigeria. 

The bilateral agreement between Nigeria and other friendly nations has seen wanted Nigerians forcibly brought back home, with the latest being Igbo separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu. Sunday Igboho was said to have been picked up at Cotonou international airport en route to Germany. Efforts to get an official response to the Igboho saga failed. 

Calls to the phone lines of Dr Peter Afunanya and Frank Mba, spokespersons of the Department of State Service (DSS) and Police, respectively, rang out and were not returned. WhatsApp messages to Afunanya were also not replied as of press time. However, a police source said efforts were on to iron out certain grey areas, to avoid diplomatic crisis between Nigeria and Benin Republic in the process of extraditing Igboho. 

Prominent Yoruba leader, Chief Banji Akintoye, had earlier said legal efforts were being made to prevent Igboho’s extradition. Akintoye, the leader of Ilana Omo Oodua, the umbrella body of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, in a statement by his communication manager, Maxwell Adeleye, said he alongside other Yoruba patriots are working to get assistance for Igboho. 

He said efforts had been made to secure the services of a leading and highly respected lawyer who the organisation can confidently rely on. 

Pan-Yoruba sociopolitical organisation, Afenifere, said it was studying the situation surrounding the arrest and detention. Its national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said the news of the arrest was a surprise, but that the organisation was still studying the situation before making a formal statement. It charged security agencies to channel their energies more into hunting bandits and terrorists, instead of harassing those peacefully agitating for the rights and better deals for their people. 

He said, “If half of the energy deployed to apprehend Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho had been deployed to tackle the menace of terrorists and bandits who kill, rape, rob and kidnap people, we would not have been in the unfortunate security mess that we are presently. “It is hoped that government will direct more attention to addressing issues that gave birth to ethnic agitations. The earlier this is done, the better.” 

Also speaking, the apex Igbo sociocultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, described Kanu and Sunday Igboho as products of unjust society, saying their prosecution by the Federal Government would amount to nothing without justice. 

It also noted with surprise the swiftness deployed by security operatives in arresting Kanu and Igboho without applying similar effectiveness in dealing with Boko Haram kingpins, herdsmen and bandits in the North-West among other criminal elements. 

According to a statement on Tuesday in Enugu by its spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia, Ohanaeze said as long as the Federal Government fails to address issues of injustice, “many other Kanus and Ig- bohos will sooner than later emerge.” 

The group contended that Kanu and Igboho who wittingly or unwittingly are seen as heroes by their people are products of unjust society. 

“We recall that Chief Sunday Igboho emerged in the scene because he could not endure the daily menace of the herdsmen in the Yoruba localities for a very long time. The herdsmen would kill, maim and rape women at random. 

“All entreaties to the presidency for a swift action against the AK-47 wielding herdsmen appeared to fall on deaf ears. Then Igboho, in a patriotic heroic zeal, intervened to save the rural farmers, women and children from the daily menace of the herdsmen,” the group said. 

The Middle Belt Forum described the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu and ‘Igboho’ as double standard, saying the Federal Government is getting it wrong in an attempt to quell agitations in the country. 

Speaking to Nigerian Tribune, national president of the forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu, said both Kanu and Igboho are never the problem of Nigeria in the true sense of it, adding that there are groups who have constituted themselves as nuisance, engaging in senseless killings and threatening the peace and tranquillity of the nation without being arrested. 

“Certainly any government that wants to stay together would want to suppress any separatist movement but certainly, this is not the way to go about it. They have arrested Kanu, I am yet to fully confirm that of Sunday Adeyemo, but whatever the case may be, I am not a lawyer but I know they would be vindicated. 

“They are freedom fighters, fighting for the liberation of their people. Freedom fighters are always willing to pay the price for the liberation of their people. Leaders like the late Nelson Mandela and others were imprisoned and in the end they saw victory,” he said. 

According to him, arrest and intimidation cannot douse the agitation or change the situation, adding that as they are being pushed and arrested, the stronger the followers become. 

Pogu asked President Mohammadu Buhari to look inward and find out why some parts of the country like the South-East, South-West and the Middle Belt want to leave the federation, adding that the people should be allowed to speak out so that the issue could be addressed. Mike Ozekhome, a SAN, knocked the Federal Government for hunting agitators down while appearing helpless in the handling of terrorists and bandits. 

The statement he put out on Igboho’s arrest reads: “The Federal Government appears supersonically effective and efficacious when it comes to arresting and repatriating dissenters and challengers of its morbid nepotic and sectionalisitc government. 

“The same government paradoxically appears abysmally weak and hopelessly helpless when it comes to fighting AK-47 wielding bandits, Boko Haram and other deadly insurgents, including ransom-taking kidnappers who are almost kidnapping the very heart and soul of Nigeria on a daily basis. The Nigerian nation appears captured by non state actors. 

“To me, this lopsided template demonstrates acute intolerance and ambivalence. It shows self contradiction. It shows an inclination towards enforcing laws against certain people, against certain classes of people while, at the same time, turning away the other eye in enforcing laws against the other preferred and pampered set of people. 

“The same government that is suddenly effective in the case of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho have never been able to capture kidnappers, bandits and Boko Haram that are daily ravaging us, turning Nigeria into sprawling field of human carnage. They take ransom. Innocent school children are paid for. Where is the same government when kidnappers are demanding that the parents of kidnapped children should now be feeding them in their kidnap dens? 

“But, it suddenly becomes effective and audacious when it comes to arresting and even ambushing and attacking self determination activists and crusaders in their very homes. 

“I am not impressed with this at all. The government may thump its chest for temporary gains. 

“But, does this solve the problem? I see this as merely pursuing butterflies while the house is on fire. 

“Recall history: Major Kaduna Nzeogwu Chukwuma. Isaac Adaka Boro, Ken Saro-Wiwa . The Ogoni Five. Are we out of the woods? I do not think so. Or, do you?” 

 

Grant amnesty to Igboho, Kanu, Ladoja urges FG 

Former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, on Tuesday, appealed to the Federal Government to grant Igboho and Kanu amnesty. Ladoja, who made the appeal while speaking with journalists at his Bodija residence, lamented the failure of successive governments to tackle challenges facing the nation, which created the emergence of the agitators. He advised that government should not treat the agitators as criminals but grant them amnesty as they have done to repentant Boko Haram members in Borno State.

Ladoja stated: “The Federal Government has declared amnesty for Boko Haram, they should also declared amnesty for Igboho and the IPOB leader “Just like Kanu, to some people, Sunday Igboho has also become a leader, people are agitating for what they believe in. Yoruba leaders, including the Alaafin of Oyo, have been complaining about atrocities committed by suspected herdsmen and nothing has been done to it till now. “Sunday Igboho was created in the context of killings in Ibarapa axis of Oyo State. Nobody has been arrested for it and even if they were arrested, they were later released. That is why people resorted to self help.”

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