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REVEALED: How Igboho Escaped, Lured Back To Airport By Travel Agents, Arrested On Return; Buratai Pushes Move For Extradition

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Facts on Tuesday emerged about how Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Benin Republic, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.), was instrumental in the arrest of the Yoruba nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho.

According to Punch, a top security source in the Benin Republic said that the former Chief of Army Staff wrote the government of the small West African country and insisted on the arrest and extradition of Igboho.

It was gathered that Buratai was at the forefront of the ongoing move to extradite the activist.

A few hours after Igboho’s arrest on Monday, his Beninese lawyers and other experts met with some Benin Republic government officials and called for the halting of his extradition.

Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff between July 2015 and January 2021, was deployed as Nigeria’s envoy in the Benin Republic in June 2021.

Before then, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had presented Buratai’s nomination to the Senate and the upper chamber of the National Assembly had confirmed the ex-COAS’ nomination despite public outcry of some crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the Nigerian Army under Buratai’s leadership.

A top security source in Benin Republic, who spoke to one of our correspondents said that Buratai through the Nigerian Embassy in the small West African country sent a secret letter to the Benin government to be on the lookout for Igboho.

It was gathered that the letter was instrumental to the arrest of Igboho and his wife, Ropo, at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, the largest city in the French-speaking country.

Recall that three weeks ago, the Department of State Services declared Igboho wanted for allegedly stockpiling arms, an allegation he had since denied.

Before then, the DSS on July 1, 2021 raided his house at Soka area of Ibadan, killing two of his aides and arresting 12 others.

Later that day, the DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, at a press briefing in Abuja, paraded Igboho’s associates and detained them thereafter, denying them access to their lawyers and not charging them to court.

The DSS also paraded some passports, AK-47 rifles, rounds of ammunition, African bulletproof vests, among others as exhibits. The secret police claimed that the items were recovered from Igboho’s house during the bloody raid.

The Federal Government subsequently placed the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Customs Service on alert to stop Igboho from leaving the country.

It was gathered that the government beefed up security at Iwajowa, Saki West, and Ibarapa local government areas of Oyo State which were adjoining areas to the Benin Republic.

Igboho, who rose to prominence in January 2021 after he issued an ultimatum to ‘killer herders’ in parts of Ibarapaland was said to have escaped the security apparatus in the areas to the Benin Republic where he was scheduled to catch a flight to Germany.

According to a top source familiar with the matter, the Nigerian government foresaw the possibility of Igboho flying to Europe through Benin Republic and planted a landmine for him there through Buratai.

Benin Republic immigration stops Igboho from boarding flight to Germany

The source said, “He (Igboho) was arrested in Cotonou on Monday night while he tried to travel. He was already at the airport with a passport. The immigration officers suspected the passport and so they stopped him. In the process, they discovered he was the one. He was able to escape in the course of discussion and we were grateful to God for that.

Igboho initially escapes but lured back by a travel agent, arrested by Interpol on return

“But the travel agent called back saying the matter had been resolved. But on going back, he was arrested. He was trying to travel to Germany when he was apprehended.

“A lot of people made effort to resolve the matter but we discovered that the Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic (Tukur Buratai) was already aware and he said that he (Igboho) must be extradited.”

A security source present in Benin Republic also told The PUNCH that the International Criminal Police Organisation, at the behest of the Nigerian Government, arrested Igboho and his wife at the airport around 8pm on Monday.

The source said, “Interpol at the airport came and arrested him saying he was wanted in Nigeria. He was together with his wife.”

When asked whether the ex-COAS and current Nigerian envoy in Benin Republic was aware of the development, the source said, “Of course, he (Buratai) knew about the case. On July 7, 2021, the Nigerian Government through the Ambassador sent a secret letter to Nigerian Embassy, Nigerian Embassy sent a letter to Ministry of External Affairs in Benin Republic, External Affairs sent to Internal Affairs, Internal Affairs sent to police to arrest Sunday Igboho.”

The source added said Igboho and his wife had been detained in “Benin Republic Criminal Police cell”, adding that “Buratai should have gone to the police station because he was the one that told them to arrest him.”

The source said though the German Embassy was intervening in the matter because Igboho’s wife is a German citizen, the Nigerian Government could have its way and extradite Igboho today (Wednesday).

“I was told they are coming tomorrow. My prayer is that he should remain in Cotonou or be allowed to go to Germany because I don’t know what would happen to him in Abuja,” the source said.

Igboho’s legal team reaches out to Benin govt to stop activist’s extradition

Meanwhile, the activist’s lawyers have reached out to the Benin Republic government to halt his extradition.

It was gathered on Tuesday that the legal team in Benin met with some senior officials in the Francophone country to thwart moves by the Federal Government to repatriate Igboho.

A member of Igboho’s legal team, Pelumi Olajengbesi, confirmed the development to The PUNCH in Abuja on Tuesday.

Speaking on the circumstances of Igboho’s arrest and moves by the FG to repatriate him to Nigeria, Olajengbesi explained that the legal team representing the activist had said they would do all that was necessary to prevent their client’s extradition.

He said , “The lawyers we engaged in Benin have met with some officials of the country to prevent the extradition.

“Igboho’s lawyers in Benin have already reached out to senior officials in Benin to ensure that he is not brought back to Nigeria. They (legal team) have assured us that they are doing all that is necessary to keep him in Benin.

“The Federal Government or Benin Republic won’t be able to circumvent the law to bring him to Nigeria. He is currently a prisoner of conscience in Benin Republic and the entire world is watching how the Benin government would manage the matter.”

Olajengbesi stated that the Federal Government would not be allowed to give Igboho “the Nnamdi Kanu treatment.

“When Nnamdi Kanu was arrested, nobody was aware and the Federal Government has refused to admit that he was arrested in Kenya. Since we have been informed of Igboho’s arrest, there have been a lot of legal interventions that the law is followed.

“The lawyers we engaged in Benin are especially discussing with the Benin Republic government. We are very confident that they won’t be able to repatriate him.”

Security sources said the Federal Government would go to any length, including offering juicy concessions to the Benin Republic to get them to release Igboho to Nigerian security operatives.

An official disclosed that the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation may charge Igboho with unlawful possession of firearms, attempted treason, conspiracy and disturbance of public peace, among others.

Igboho’s lead counsel, Yomi Alliyu (SAN), in a statement obtained by The PUNCH on Tuesday, confirmed that Igboho and his wife were arrested in Benin Republic.

He stated that the Nigerian Government treated his client unjustly and committed “savagery acts” by “invading” the activist’s house in the middle of the night, destroying his property, detaining and killing his associates.

Alliyu argued that “The Extradition Treaty of 1984 between Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and Republic of Benin excluded political fugitives. It also states that where the fugitive will not get justice because of discrimination and/or undue delay in prosecution the host country should not release the fugitive.

“Now, Article 20 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which the four countries are signatories made agitation for self-determination a fundamental right to be protected by all countries. This made Chief Sunday Adeyemo a political offender who cannot be deported and/or extradited by the good people of the Republic of Benin for any reason.”

The senior advocate, who described the arrest of his client as shocking, urged the government of Germany, Benin Republic and the international community “to rise up and curb the impunity of the Nigerian government by refusing any application for extradition of our client who already has an application before the International Criminal Court duly acknowledged.”

 

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JUST IN: New Charges Levelled Against Igboho In Benin Republic

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Ibrahim Salami, one of the lawyers representing Sunday Adeyemo, Yoruba Nation activist better known as Sunday Igboho, says a new charge was brought up against his client on Monday.

Salami said Igboho came to Benin through a back channel and the judge said he might have had some criminal association while in Benin, calling for further investigation on his entrance and stay in the country.

The lawyer said there were nine lawyers who represented Igboho at the Beninese court, and they were all shocked to see how the case turned out.

In an interview with the BBC, Salami said if Igboho wanted to cause problems in Benin, he would have stayed longer in the country, but he was willing to leave the country less than 24 hours after coming to Benin.

He said the court eventually ruled that Igboho be held in a Beninese prison until the investigation is concluded.

A final judgement has not been made by the Beninese court sitting in Cotonou, but the lawyers are now seeking to bail Igboho pending the investigation.

He said the case started with fighting off extradition to Nigeria but ended as a case of Sunday Adeyemo versus the Benin Republic.

More to follow…

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FG Orders Activation of COVID-19 Isolation Centres Nationwide

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The federal government has directed all COVID-19 Isolation Centres across the country to immediately activate their facilities in anticipation of a possible spike in infection. Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, gave the directive yesterday in Abuja at a media briefing on the COVID-19 update.

The move came as the government said it had identified 10 positive cases of COVID-19 Delta variant in passengers who came in mostly from the Lagos and Abuja airports. It stressed that henceforth, stringent measures would be put in place to monitor incoming passengers from countries where the virus had become more virulent, maintaining that anyone who breaks the isolation rule would be prosecuted.

The minister said the federal government had deployed rapid testing kits at all official entry points to the country, including the Idioroko and Seme border posts, to ensure stricter monitoring and prevention of disease importation into Nigeria.

Ehanire disclosed that in the past 24 hours, the world had witnessed an increase in reported cases of the virus across a significant number of countries, due to the high transmissibility of the Delta Variant. He said there was a rising incidence of COVID-19 in the country, adding that treatment bed occupancy is also recording an increase given the established emergence of a third wave.

“We have already asked our hospitals to reactivate all their isolation centers and prepare them for any possible surge,” he said.

According to Ehanire: “As of July 25, 2021, we have confirmed a total of 170,895 COVID-19 cases and 2,132 fatalities. There are 4,180 active cases across the country, including 216 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours from seven states; 108 cases from Lagos State, 96 cases from Akwa Ibom State, four from Oyo, three from Rivers, two from Edo, and one each from Ekiti and Kano states.”

He regretted that despite the evidence of the emergence of a third wave of the pandemic, citizens continued to refuse adherence to public health advisories.

The minister said in preparation for the anticipated rise in cases, the Federal Ministry of Health had taken steps to urgently scale up and enhance local oxygen capacity before any increase in oxygen consumption. He said the government had invested directly and strategically in ensuring oxygen availability to avert the incidence of oxygen insufficiency for COVID-19 patients in the country.

On the country’s push for COVID-19 vaccine sufficiency, Ehanire said Nigeria was expecting, “over 29 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines purchased by the government of Nigeria through the African Union AVATT facility; and over four million Moderna and almost 700, 000 AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility from bilateral donations from the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom; as well as Pfizer and Sinopharm from both bilateral agreements and through the COVAX facility.”

The minister allayed fears over the recent donation of the Sinopharm COVID19 vaccine by the Chinese government, saying the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has been asked to subject the vaccine to regulatory test for the needed approval.

Ehanire also said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a one-dose shot, would be advantageous in the Nigerian context, with weak Civil Registration Vital Statistics (CRVS) and a nomadic population.

According to Ehanire government expects to take delivery of the vaccines this quarter, with the Johnson & Johnson expected in August.

Earlier, the minister said the country had stop vaccination in July 10, because it ran out of vaccine doses.

When asked about efforts to commence manufacturing of vaccines in the country, he said Nigeria had put up a good case for citing a vaccine manufacturing company in the country.

Ehanire added that the government had also approached prominent Nigerians in the private sector to support the venture.

He explained, “We are talking to eminent Nigerians, we are waiting for the next step to put up a concept note and business plan. We are working with a company that the federal government owns 49 percent equity and the company will be the only company we will present as the one to do the manufacturing and government will support them in many ways to get the technical transfer and to be the one supported to produce the vaccine.”

While giving an update on COVID-19 testing and treatment around the country, the Director of Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology, Mrs. Elsie Ilori, said, “So far we have identified 10 Delta variants of COVID-19 in the country. The Delta variant is more virulent than the normal one and the symptoms it presents are not in consonance with what we are used to, that is why we need to be careful.”

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BREAKING: Cotonou Court Sends Sunday Igboho Back To Prison After 13 Hours Trial

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Cour De’Appel De Cotonou has returned Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, to police custody pending further investigation.

The activist was returned to cell after a 13-hour hearing, which ended around 11:20 pm on Monday.

The case was heard behind closed doors as the court limited attendance to lawyers, Igboho’s wife, Ropo, and a few others.

According to The Cable, Igboho would not be set free. “The problem is with the extradition, and there is a lot of politics going on”.

This means no immediate extradition for the Yoruba youth leader, who has been declared wanted by the government of Nigeria.

It is however unclear if a political solution will be reached between both states or not.

Journalists, monarchs, and supporters who came to court for the case were barred from witnessing his hearing.

They then hung around the court premises until about 7 pm when armed security operatives came to court to eject anyone who was not a person of interest.

Igboho and his wife, Ropo, were arrested at an airport in Cotonou last week and detained at the request of the Nigerian government.

His lawyers requested the release of his wife on the grounds that she had committed no offense against the Nigerian state.

On Thursday, the court answered the prayers and ordered her release and a return of her passport.

Igboho was taken to detention, where he has been up until Monday.

The charges against the Yoruba Nation activist border on arms smuggling, inciting violence, and calling for a secession of the Yoruba from the Nigerian state.

Igboho and his lawyers have denied all allegations leveled against him.

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