The hearing of a case of illegal possession of Republic of Benin passport against the Yoruba Nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, lasted for more than six h9ours on Thursday at Cour De’appal De Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Igboho, who was arrested at Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou on Monday night, is being tried for immigration-related offences.
The Court ordered that Igboho, who is being tried for obtaining a Beninese passport without being a citizen, be remanded in the custody of Brigade Criminelle in Cotonou as the case will continue on Friday.
After three sessions, the court ordered the release of Igboho’s wife, Ropo, while the activist was returned to cell.
The sessions started at 10am and ended at about 8pm, but there were intermittent breaks during the hearing.
However, we learnt that the Nigeria government failed to file extradition charges against Igboho, who was declared wanted by the Department of State Services after its operatives raided the Soka residence of the agitator, killing two and arresting twelve people in the process.
Yomi Alliyu (SAN), counsel to Igboho confirmed the failure of the FG to file charges in court on Thursday in a telephone conversation with last night.
“Not only that his wife has been released, but the FGN also refused to file an extradition charge against him. They are begging the Benin Republic to keep him pending the time they will file charges against him. Which serious country will accept that”? Alliyu queried.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Justice said they are observing the extradition process in respect of Sunday Igboho arrest in the Benin Republic.
A senior staff of the ministry’s prosecutions department informed under the condition of the anonymity that the process has already commenced by a court hearing in Cotonou.
The hearing was adjourned till Friday, but it was gathered that the court might not sit today (Friday).
A member of Igboho’s legal team, Pelumi Olajengbesi, confirmed the development on Thursday, adding that the team was hopeful that the court would grant bail to Igboho
Earlier, there was anxiety among supporters of the Yoruba Nation activist when he arrived at the court on Thursday
A source said Igboho, who was arrested around 8pm on Monday by the International Criminal Police Organisation was arraigned for immigration-related offences.
The activist and his wife, were arrested at the airport when they wanted to catch a flight to Germany.
Igboho and his wife have since been kept in police custody in Cotonou while his lawyers are in talks with the Beninise government to secure his release and stop his extradition.
On Thursday, many Yoruba-speaking supporters of the Igboho in the French-speaking country were seen at the court premises in solidarity with the 49-year-old activist.
The supporters were dressed in t-shirts which had inscriptions such as ‘Yoruba Nation now’, ‘Oduduwa Nation now’, amongst others emblazoned on them.
Free Igboho, Nigeria inflicting pain on Benin, supporters tell Beninise govt
The Yoruba Nation proponents in Cotonou pleaded with the Government of Benin not to cave into pressure and extradite Igboho to Nigeria.
One of the activist’s supporters, Mr Olorunwa Adekoya, said, “I am in Benin where Chief Sunday Igboho is detained. I saw him this morning and we spoke. I was not given enough time to speak with but he assured me that he is fine and there is no problem. His lawyers are with him presently. The law here is different from that of Nigeria where there could be miscarriage of justice. Igboho is not a terrorist. He is not a murderer or a kidnapper or a rapist. There was no case of murder at any of our rallies back in Nigeria. We appeal to the Beninise Government not to release him to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“I urge all Christians, Muslims, and traditional worshippers to pray for Igboho. The attainment of Yoruba Nation will benefit Benin Republic a lot because Nigeria has foisted difficulty on Benin Republic by blocking the borders between Nigeria and Benin Republic, thereby stalling regional trade activities along the axis.”
Another supporter, who identified himself simply as Comrade Fatayo, said, “Sunday Igboho is a freedom-fighter and there is no evidence of murder against him. I appeal to those in authority here in Benin Republic to release him because if the government here hands him over to the Nigerian government, we do not know what would happen thereafter.”
When contacted, a member of Igboho’s legal team, Pelumi Olajengbesi said on Thursday that the team was hopeful that the court would grant bail to Igboho.
When asked whether Igboho would get bail in court, the lawyer simply told our correspondent, “We are hopeful”.
Olajengbesi restated his conviction that Benin Republic had shown itself to be a country that respects the rule of law and due process.
“The disposition of Benin Republic is that it is a country that respects the rule of law. We are making efforts that he is not repatriated wrongly to Nigeria. We are ensuring that everything is done in accordance to the law and we are very hopeful that we would succeed,” he stressed.