A prominent Yoruba scholar, Banji Akintoye, on Tuesday, confirmed the arrest of Sunday Adeyemo, popularly called Sunday Igboho, saying he and other Yoruba leaders are “currently working to provide assistance” to prevent his extradition from Benin Republic.
Mr Akintoye, leader of ‘Ilana Omo Oodua’ and a prominent campaigner for Yoruba self-determination, said in a statement that Mr Igboho had not committed any crime.
“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,” the don, an ally of Mr Igboho, said.
“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.”
Mr Akintoye, an emeritus professor, said that “leading lawyers in Benin Republic are now in charge.”
News that Mr Igboho had been arrested in Cotonou, Benin Republic, broke early Tuesday.
Multiple sources who are allies of Mr Igboho told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Igboho was nabbed at an airport in Cotonou on Monday night while trying to travel to Germany.
The operation was said to have been carried out by operatives of the State Security Services (SSS).
Mr Igboho’s lawyer, Yomi Aliu, and SSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, are yet to speak on the incident. They did not respond to calls and text messages seeking comments.
Also, Mr Igboho’s spokesperson, Olayemi Koiki, declined comment on the arrest.
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 SSS, Mr Afunaya, who confirmed the raid in a press conference in Abuja at the time said a total of seven AK 47 rifles were recovered, alongside pump action guns and 5,000 rounds of ammunition including other weapons.
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 is currently responding to treatment.
The secret police also declared Mr Igboho wanted, a development that sparked outrage on social media. Two days after, Mr Igboho said the security operatives planted ammunition in his house in order to persecute him.
A past video of one of his meetings with a South-west traditional ruler, however, surfaced on social media where he boasted that “no government” can stop him from carrying firearms.
His lawyer, Mr Aliyu, recently wrote the SSS, demanding an apology and N500 million damages from the security operatives for destroying Mr Igboho’s Ibadan residence.
Agitation for Yoruba nation
Mr Igboho, and Mr Akintoye’s group, has led rallies in Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, and Ogun states. He threatened to hold the rally in Lagos on July 3 but his home was invaded barely 72 hours to the planned date.
He has in the past 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 the independence and sovereign country for the Yoruba race in Nigeria but many political leaders in the region have rejected and kicked against the idea.
The former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu, alongside 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.
For the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Gani Adams, 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.
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