A court in the Benin Republic has ordered the release of Ropo, the wife of one of the leaders of the Yoruba Nation secessionist movement, Sunday Adeyemo alias Sunday Igboho, from custody after a hearing that lasted over six hours on Thursday.
The duo were arrested at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou on Monday night. After three sessions at the Cour De’appal De Cotonou, where Igboho was being tried for immigration offences, the judge ordered Ropo’s release but adjourned the activist’s hearing till today.
Igboho was, consequently, returned to the cell.
The hearing began at 10 am and ended around 8 pm with intermittent breaks during the proceedings. A court hearing was postponed to Friday, but it is understood that the court might not hold it today (Friday).
Pelumi Olajengbesi, a member of Igboho’s legal team, says the team hopes that the court will order Igboho’s release.
Recall that Igboho, who went into hiding after the Department of State Services raided his country home in the Soka area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, at 1 am on July 1, 2021, was arrested while reportedly trying to catch a flight to Germany from the Benionese airport.
After escape arrest in the Ibadan raid, the DSS had paraded 12 of his associates arrested during the operation, displayed some passports including that of Igboho, AK-47 rifles, rounds of ammunition, African bulletproof vests, among others as exhibits and declared Igboho wanted on charges of stockpiling weapons.
DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, had at the time warned that Igboho had no hiding place, warning him to give himself up.
Since his arrest, reports noted that the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.), who is the present ambassador to the Benin Republic, has been pushing for extradition to Nigeria. However, his lawyers insist the 1984 Extradition Treaty between Nigeria, Benin and two others excluded political refugees like Igboho.
Benin Republic has insisted that it would not be part of any process that was against due process.
Meanwhile, former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof Bola Akinterinwa, said Nigeria cannot force the Benin Republic into extraditing Igboho.
Speaking on a PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable, monitored by News Central, Akinterinwa also advised the Federal Government to seek amicable solutions to ending secessionist movements.
He said, “At the level of Benin Republic, if you are talking about arm-twisting, an elephant, even a lion, as big and powerful as it is, if it is bitten by a small mosquito, then you can know the consequences. It is not a question that Nigeria is big and powerful that you can arm-twist anybody, no, it doesn’t work that way.
“The relationship between the Benin Republic and Nigeria is not determined only at the level of the Benin Republic. Benin Republic is francophone, that means that it is dealing with France and the relationship at the level of France and Nigeria you can understand it without any rocket science.
“The French government does not want the government of Nigeria to have the capacity to use Benin Republic or the Francophone neighbours to the detriment of French interest in West Africa as much as the government of Nigeria won’t want to be used by the Francophone neighbours against Nigeria’s interest in the immediate neighbourhood.
“So, even if you close borders all along, borders are not closed against the immediate neighbours, they are also closed against the French. So, any battle, any arm-twisting that you are thinking of should be put in the context of French interest and particularly the Francophone interest.
“Any misunderstanding between a Francophone country – whether an immediate neighbour or far distant neighbour – is necessarily an issue at the level of Nigeria and the Francophone community; they think alike, they work together, they address issues together.”
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