Three weeks after he was declared wanted by Nigeria’s secret police, the Republican Police on Monday evening arrested Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho.
Igboho, a campaigner for Yoruba self-determination, was arrested in neighbouring Cotonou, Benin Republic, while trying to travel to Germany.
A local newspaper in the neighbouring country, Banouto reports quoted Beninise authorities as saying Mr Igboho was nabbed at Cardinal Bernardin International Airport in Cotonou.
He was “disembarked from his plane, arrested by the Beninese police while he was trying to travel to Germany and then transferred to the Cotonou Criminal Brigade.”
It was learnt that under the agreements between the two countries, Mr Igboho’s extradition should be concluded without hindrance.
While the Nigerian government is yet to speak on the development, reactions have started pouring in from different Yoruba groups.
Mr Igboho’s lawyer called on the government of Benin Republic to prevent the extradition of Mr. Igboho to Nigeria.
“I call upon you 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 the International Criminal Court duly acknowledged,” he said in a brief statement seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
A Yoruba nation agitation group, Ilana Omo Oodua, led by Banji Akintoye, said in a statement Tuesday that it is “currently working to provide assistance for Ighoho to prevent his extradition into Nigeria.”
Mr. Akintoye said “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 have secured the services of a leading and highly respected lawyer whom we can confidently rely on. 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-appropriate step, namely to seek the intervention of the International Criminal Court.”
A sociocultural group in Oyo State, The Landmark Group, in a statement by its chairman, Ayo Adekunle, accused the federal government of trying to victimise and dehumanise Igboho.
“It’s astonishing that the charges against our brother are neither of killing, kidnapping or abduction which are the thriving businesses in Nigeria today and need the concerted efforts of the government working with the state and local government. However, with the kind of treatment and selective manhunt for our brother, such collaborative efforts may be an exercise in futility.
“In a nation where bandits are in photo ops with some governors and Boko Haram members are being given amnesty, is it a crime to defend your people against invasion? This, we believe, is the sin of our brother, Sunday Igboho. All other issues are being joined to raise unnecessary sentiments.
“We, therefore, call on Governor Seyi Makinde who is the chief security officer of Oyo State, and indeed, governors of the South-West States, to ensure the safety of our brother against victimization. We equally call on the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari to exercise restraint and stop the manhunt for our brother. He is only fighting for justice and equity for his people and, as such, should not be treated as a criminal.”
Earlier this month, Mr Igboho’s house, located in Soka, Ibadan, capital of Oyo State was invaded around 1:00 a.m. by SSS operatives.
His vehicles, including his G-wagon, Prado Jeep, and some valuable properties including furniture, and windows were destroyed.
The spokesperson of the SSS, Peter Afunnaya, later said seven AK 47 rifles, pump action guns and 5,000 rounds of ammunition and other weapons were recovered from the apartment.
He said security operatives recovered the weapons after a “hot gun duel between them and Igboho’s guards”. The SSS also admitted that two of Mr. Igboho’s men were killed in the process while a security agent was shot on the right hand and hospitalised.
Mr Igboho later said the weapons were not his and that security operatives planted ammunition in his house in order to implicate him.
The secret police also declared Mr Igboho wanted.
He threatened to hold the rally in Lagos on July 3 but his home was invaded 72 hours to the planned date.
He had also called for the eviction of Fulanis in South-west states, an action that was condemned by federal and state authorities.
Yoruba Nation agitation is a political ideology to realise an independent and sovereign country for the Yoruba race in Nigeria but many notable political leaders in the region have rejected the idea.
The former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu, alongside the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and all leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-west, in a meeting in Lagos last month, opposed the agitation.
They called for ethnic and religious unity instead of a divided nation.
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Gani Adams, recently said Mr Igboho, “is using wrong methods to demand self-determination.” He said rather than engage traditional rulers peacefully and get their support, he focused on propaganda.