Nigerians are waiting with bated breath as legal fireworks commence today for the trial of two prominent separatist leaders – Nnamdi Kanu of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Abuja and Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Kanu is the leader of IPOB and founder of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), which is agitating for a separate Biafran state for Igbo in the South-East. Apart from being a Yoruba Nation agitator, Igboho is a selfacclaimed defender of Yoruba territory against killer herdsmen in the South-West.
He had led rallies in some areas in the South-West, including Ibadan, Osogbo, Akure, Abeokuta, Ado Ekiti to sensitise and mobilise the people for his Yoruba Nation agenda.
Following Kanu’s re-arrest in Kenya and extradition to Nigeria, he was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal Court, Abuja, who granted an order for the Department of State Services (DSS) to remand the IPOB leader till July 26. Kanu is facing a couple of charges, mostly connected to his call for the secession of the South-East from the country.
He was first arrested in October 2015 and granted bail in April 2017. Justice Nyako ordered him not to attend any rally, grant interviews or be in a gathering of more than 10 persons. Kanu was also ordered to deposit his passport, including his British passport with the court. He was released after meeting all the bail conditions.
Almost one year and some months after soldiers raided his father’s residence in Abia State Kanu was seen in Jerusalem on October 19, 2018. Three persons that stood surety for him were taken to court by the government, claiming that the separatist leader violated terms of his bail.
However, special counsel for Kanu, Aloy Ejimakor, told security officials not molest his client’s supporters coming to show solidarity at the court.
In a statement on his Facebook page on Sunday, he said the call was necessitated by media reports that those coming to Abuja to show solidarity with Kanu will be harassed or arrested by security agents.
Igboho, who according to a newspaper in Benin Republic, Banouto, was nabbed at Cardinal Bernardin International Airport in Cotonou last Monday night, is being tried for immigration- related offences in the Francophone nation. However, the Federal Government is trying to get him extradited to Nigeria to face charges for illegal weapons possession in his house.
After three sessions, the court ordered the release of Igboho’s wife, Ropo, while the activist was returned to cell. The DSS had raided Igboho’s Ibadan residence on July 1, 2021, arrested about 12 of his aides and killed two of them after they allegedly engaged in a gun duel with national security officers.
While it was not clear when he would be extradited because there is no official statement yet from the Nigerian government, eminent Yoruba leaders and groups have, however, faulted the arrest. Meanwhile, a Yoruba rights group “Isokan Omo Odudua, has disclosed that it has offered free transportation and accommodation to those who wish to travel to Benin Republic on solidarity mission.
In a statement obtained by New Telegraph yesterday, the Isokan Omo Odudua said 30 people had travelled to Cotonou on its bill and called for more to show their solidarity, stressing that Igboho did not commit any criminal offence to warrant the DSS to declare him wanted.
Ibrahim David, Igboho’s lawyer in Cotonou, had however earlier advised against the convergence of his supporters on the court premises, where he reportedly said: “On Thursday, there were too many Yoruba from Nigeria and Cotonou in court and I told them it is not good.
They should stay at home and pray. They should leave the lawyers to do the work. Coming to court is not good for the case.”
Meanwhile, some Yoruba monarchs yesterday in Benin Republic converged on Cotonou to discuss Igboho’s detention. The summit took place in Adjohoun’s palace of Alajohoun, which is around 60 kilometres from Ajase.
Alajashe of Ajase from Port Novo, Alajohoun of Adjohoun, Onikoyi Abesan, and Oba of Seme, were among those who attended the conference