The trial of Yoruba Nation activist Chief Sunday Adeyemo also known as Chief Sunday Igboho is scheduled to resume tomorrow, Monday, July 26, 2021, at Cotonou, Benin Republic. This follows the adjournment of the trial on Thursday, July 22 at the Cour D’Appal De Cotonou. The disclosure was made known by one of the activist’s lawyers, Ibrahim Salami, a law professor in Cotonou.
Court proceedings in the Republic of Benin require that he must go through two more steps before judgement is pronounced. The case was adjourned to Monday because Igboho’s five lawyers could not convince the prosecution that their client had no case to answer. Chief Igboho was, therefore, returned to police custody.
During the court proceedings, the prosecution claimed that Igboho was on “a watchlist for alleged arms trafficking, encouraging violence that might cause societal unrest, and fostering divisiveness in Nigeria. After three sessions the court ordered that Igboho’s wife be released.
According to Salami, “there are three steps (judicial process) of trial in Benin”. The first is with the prosecutor, the second with the investigating judge. The trail then moves on to the third judge who will decide whether or not he is guilty and pronounces a sentence on the accused. Having completed the first step on Thursday, the second step commences on Monday, July 26. The judge for the next step (investigation) will be known on Monday. Finally, the third judge who will decide whether he should be sentenced or not will also be known.
The activist’s wife, Ropo was arrested with the 48-year-old agitator for Yoruba nationhood on Monday, July 19, 2021, at the Cadjehoun Airport in Cotonou, Republic of Benin. They were en route to Germany when the arrest took place. The arrest by the International Criminal Police (Interpol) was ordered by the Nigerian government.
The Department of State Security (DSS) had raided Igboho’s residence at Ibadan on July 1, 2021, arrested about twelve of his followers and killed two. The DSS alleged that Igboho’s followers had engaged its men in a gun duel.
Igboho according to a Beninois newspaper “Banauto” is being tried for immigration-related offences in Nigeria’s neighbouring Francophone country. However, the Federal Government of Nigeria wants Igboho extradited to Nigeria to face charges of illegal weapons possession in his house.
It is yet to be made clear as to when he will be extradited to Nigeria. No official statement has been made to that effect by the Nigerian government over the arrest which has been widely faulted by eminent Yoruba leaders.
The case against Igboho has generated widespread consternation across the Yoruba states in Nigeria and, ethnic Yoruba indigenous population in the Republic of Benin. It is noteworthy to point out that Yoruba ethnic nationals account for nearly a quarter of the Benin Republic’s 11,000,000 citizens.
Yoruba leaders in the two countries have shown very keen interest in the case against Igboho, who they insist has not committed any offence against the government in Nigeria to warrant declaring him wanted by the DSS.
Some Yoruba monarchs in the Benin Republic held a closed-door meeting ahead of the court hearing of July 26. The meeting was convened at the palace of the Alajohoun of Adjohoun as part of efforts to ensure that the Oduduwa Republic pioneer is not extradited to Nigeria. In attendance was the Alajashe of Ajase from Porto Novo, Alajohoun of Ajohoun, Onikoyi Abesan and Oba of Seme. A Yoruba rights group, “Isokan Omo Oduduwa” has disclosed that it is offering free transportation and accommodation to as many as are willing to travel to Cotonou on solidarity mission. They emphasize that Igboho did not commit any offence.
It is yet to be ascertained whether or not Nigeria has an extradition treaty with the Benin Republic. Even if there exists any, Igboho’s lawyers are likely to fight tooth and nail to ensure that he is not returned to Nigeria. Their likely contention would be that given what took place at his Ibadan residence on July I, 2021, his safety cannot be guaranteed. Besides, there are unconfirmed reports that Germany may be willing to grant him asylum because his wife is a German citizen.