by Ayoyemi Mojoyinola
New Year Message – Yoruba Nation campaigner, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, says he is not at war with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); the six governors in the South-West zone or any government official.
He, however, stressed that it was saddening that the Buhari regime has not addressed the security challenges in the South-West zone which was the genesis of his agitation for Yoruba Nation.
Igboho, in his 2022 New Year Message, said everyone living in the country deserves to be protected regardless of their tribe, religion or political leanings.
The New Year message was signed by one of the activist’s lawyers in Nigeria, Pelumi Olajengbesi, on behalf of his client. It was titled, ‘Sunday Igboho’s New Year message for 2022’.
It read, “Let it be abundantly clear that I am not at war with President Buhari, the Governors or anybody in government.
“What I want the government to do is to address the genesis of my agitation for a Yoruba Nation.
“The genesis is the insecurity in Ibarapaland and other places in the entire Yorubaland where farmers were maimed, hacked to death, kidnapped and raped as if there are no security agents in the country. Everybody deserves to be protected and feel safe in their country regardless of their tribe, religion or political leanings.
“At some points our people became helpless and they can no longer go to their farmlands again. Scores of farmers were butchered to death in 2021 and the government pretends that all is okay. No, this must not continue and this was why I rose to stop the menace. I didn’t speak up to fight government, I spoke to ensure protection for our people.
“My message is that in 2022, the government should rise up and put an end to the havoc caused by herdsmen that are criminals and give everyone a sense of belonging – whether foreign or locals — and stop the attack of our people in Yorubaland.
“I am not selfish about myself, I am more concerned about helpless citizens who buried their loved ones to aimless killings in 2021 and I pray the Almighty God would stop the killings of innocent people in Nigeria.”
Detained in Cotonou prison for over five months
For over five months, the 49-year-old agitator has been in detention in neighbouring Benin Republic since his arrest around 8pm on July 19, 2021 at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou.
The Cour De’appal De Cotonou since the arraignment of Igboho on July 27, 2021, has not sat, fuelling speculations that the detention of Igboho is laced with political undertones.
Igboho’s continued incarceration has also doused Yoruba Nation agitations in the last five months as his followers and associates have laid low, suspending secessionist rallies as was done in the South-West before the near-perpetual ordeal of the agitator.
Igboho’s mentor in the struggle, who is also an arrowhead for self-determination, Banji Akintoye, had since left Nigeria for Benin Republic after he got wind that the Buhari regime plotted his arrest. The 86-year-old professor of History had said he was in Cotonou to facilitate Igboho’s release.
The Buhari regime in 2021 turned maddening heat on separatist agitators and descended on their arrowheads including Igboho who agitated for the South-West to pull out of the Nigerian State over perceived injustice and insecurity. Buhari also didn’t spare the detained leader of South-East separatist group, the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
On July 1, 2021, around 2am, the Department of State Services stormed the Ibadan residence of Igboho in a Gestapo style, killing two of his associates and arresting 12 others. The luxury cars and the house of the agitator in the Soka area of Oyo State were also riddled with bullets.
The DSS subsequently declared Igboho wanted for allegedly stockpiling arms to destabilise Nigeria under the pretext of secessionist agitation, an allegation he had since denied.
After about three weeks underground, Igboho found his way to Cotonou and planned to escape to Germany through an Air France Cotonou-Paris-Hamburg flight but the trip was botched as the Interpol at the airport arrested him and his German-citizen wife, Ropo.
The Interpol at the airport had arrested the duo at the behest of the Nigerian Government.
The Beninise Government subsequently arraigned the agitator before the Cour De’appal De Cotonou on migration-related offences and for gunrunning but the court on July 27, 2021, ordered that Ropo be released while Igboho be remanded in prison till further notice.
Ropo, it was gathered, now shuttles between Germany where her children are based and Cotonou where her husband is perpetually detained.
The court has not opened the case since then and all efforts by Igboho’s lawyers both in Nigeria and Benin Republic have not yielded in his release as the Buhari regime’s representatives in the Francophone West African country led by Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.), continued to push for the extradition of the agitator.
During his speech on the occasion of Nigeria’s 61st Independence Anniversary on October 1, 2021, Buhari accused a serving National Assembly member and Very Important Personalities of being sponsors of Igboho and Kanu, who is in DSS custody in Abuja and facing terrorism-related charges before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court.
Also, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) on October 22, 2021, said established a link between Igboho and a Boko Haram sponsor, Surajo Muhammad, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the United Aram Emirates on charges of financing terrorism.
The AGF alleged that between 2013 and 2020, Igboho received N127m from several financiers including a federal lawmaker. The government, however, refused to reveal the identity of the lawmaker.
The DSS on November 23, 2021, contested a N20bn damages awarded against it by an Oyo State High Court, sitting in Ibadan, as damages to Igboho over the destruction of his house and the violation of his fundamental rights.
The secret police added that the Yoruba Nation agitator was under extradition procedure to Nigeria.
Though pan-Yoruba groups including Afenifere backed political solution to resolve the secessionist crisis in Nigeria after Malami said such can’t be ruled out but the posture of the Buhari regime has shown otherwise.