Desperately wanted by the Department of State Services (DSS) in Nigeria, with an international arrest warrant hanging around his neck, and facing immigration-related offences in Cotonou, the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, is seeking asylum in the Republic of Benin.
It was gathered that the 48-year-old activist resorted to the option after he was arrested on Monday, July 19, 2021, by the International Criminal Police Organisation at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
Igboho was arrested with his Germany-based wife, Ropo, at the airport while they reportedly tried to catch a flight to Germany around 8 pm on Monday.
Although the Cour De’appal De Cotonou ruled on Thursday that Ropo should be released unconditionally as there were no charges against her, Igboho is spending his first weekend in a police cell in Cotonou.
He is being tried for migration-related issues after he was allegedly caught with a fake Beninese passport at the point of his departure to Germany through an Air France flight.
“He (Igboho) was already at the airport with a passport. The immigration officers suspected his passport to be fake and so they stopped him. A passport was allegedly forged for Igboho in the Benin Republic for the purpose of the Germany trip. At the airport, they discovered he was the one,” a source familiar with the matter told Saturday PUNCH.
The source, who craved anonymity, however, said although an application had been filed for Igboho as a political refugee in Germany, processes had also been completed to file another application for asylum for him in Benin Republic.
“Igboho has already applied for asylum in Germany and he hopes to file a similar application in Benin Republic in the coming days,” the source said.
The source also said that there was the possibility that the Beninese Government would drop the migration-related offences brought against Igboho over alleged forgery of passport.
The leader of Igboho’s legal team, Yomi Alliyu (SAN), had also in a statement noted that his client could not be extradited because the 1984 Extradition Treaty between Nigeria, Benin and two other countries excluded political refugees like Igboho.
Meanwhile, upon their arrest, Igboho and his wife were detained in police custody in Cotonou but the Cour De’appal De Cotonou ruled on Thursday that Ropo should be released unconditionally as there were no charges against her.
The court session lasted for about six hours with intermittent breaks.
The court, however, ruled that Igboho be remanded in police custody till the next date of adjournment which is likely to be next week.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday gave the Department of State Services six days within which to produce Igboho’s aides in court.
It also ordered the DSS to show cause why the 12 applicants should not be admitted to bail on July 29, which is the next adjourned date.
Earlier, the counsel for the 12 detained aides of the activist, Pelumi Olajengbesi, while arguing his ex parte motion before the court, said his clients who were applicants in the case, were arrested by agents of the state and had not been heard from since their detention.
He stated that the exhibit which formed part of his motion was a letter written to the DSS to enable the applicants to gain access to their lawyers and family members.
The lawyer lamented that in spite of the letter, the DSS did not oblige them access to the applicants who had been in their custody for over 20 days.
Olajengbesi craved the indulgence of the court in the interest of justice to grant the reliefs sought.
In his ex parte motion, Olajengbesi prayed the court on behalf of the applicants for an order “mandating and compelling the respondents to produce the applicants to enable the court to inquire into the circumstances constituting the grounds of their arrest and detention since July 1, 2021.”
The lawyer also sought the order of the court mandating and compelling the respondents to produce the applicants before the court and “show cause as to why the applicants should not be granted bail in accordance with the provision of Section 32 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and other extant laws in Nigeria.”
Olajengbesi argued that the applicants are citizens of Nigeria with inherent rights.
The ex-parte motion was supported with an eight-paragraph affidavit, exhibit, eleven-paragraph affidavit of extreme urgency, affidavit of non-complicity of action, and a written address.
The detained aides had instituted a suit against the DSS and its Director-General, Yusuf Bichi, following their arrest and detention on July 1, 2021 after the DSS’ raid on Igboho’s residence in the Soka area of Ibadan, Oyo State.
The applicants are Abdulateef Ofeyagbe, Amoda Babatunde, Tajudeen Erinoyen, Diekola Ademola, Abideen Shittu, Jamiu Noah, and Ayobami Donald.
Others are Adelabe Usman, Oluwapelimi Kunle, Raji Kazeem, Taiwo Opeyemi, and Bamidele Sunday.