Yoruba-speaking monarchs in Benin Republic have mounted pressure on the president, Patrice Talon, and other top government officials to grant asylum to Yoruba Nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
The PUNCH had reported that the monarchs had written the president asking him “not to allow the country to be used by Nigeria to score political points.”
The Yoruba monarchs had last Monday submitted a letter to the President of the country Igboho’s detention.
The letter was jointly signed by the Onikoyi Abesan-an, Alajase of Ajase land, Onimase of Imase land, Oniohorige of Ohori, Onnilaase of Ilase land, Onikrake of Kraka land from Seme town, and Alajuwon of Ajuwon land, who is the President of the Council of Obas.
It was learnt that a copy of the letter was submitted to the country’s Minister of Interior and the Senate President.
One of the monarchs told our correspondent that series of meetings had been held with government officials in the French-speaking countries.
He explained that an initial meeting was held with the lawyers defending Igboho and “they had made things clearer to us”.
“We have started meetings with government officials and allies of the president. We will still discuss the outcome of the meeting with the press but that is not now,” the monarch, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.
Asked the identities of the top government officials, he said, “Ministers and special advisers to the president are among them. The feedback has been positive so far. We will be meeting with the president soon. We will continue to press that the right thing is done.”
The spokesperson for Ilana Egbe Omo Oduduwa confirmed the development, saying, “Yes, the monarchs have been very helpful. We are hopeful that Igboho will be granted asylum this week.”
Dr Malik Falola, a Benin-based counsel for Igboho, had hinted that Benin Republic is avoiding a diplomatic row that may arise between Nigeria and the francophone country if Igboho’s matter is “not well-managed”.
He said, “Does the law say Sunday should be returned? No, the law does not permit that. ECOWAS law does not permit that. He is not a Benin citizen. But if he is arrested by Benin another country must justify why he should be released to them.
“Is it the case that Nigeria wants Benin to release him so that he can be killed? If it is the case that he committed an offence here and he ran to Nigeria, Benin Republic can call for his extradition because the charges against him here are not political. But since he committed the offences here, he has to be tried here.
“If Nigeria insists that Igboho is their citizen, they must know that the law must be followed. Both parties won’t want a diplomatic row over this matter. The law is clear.”
Igboho and his wife were arrested on Monday, July 19, 2021, by the International Criminal Police Organisation at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, Republic of Benin on their way to Germany. Ropo was later released.
This was after DSS raided his house in Ibadan and declared him wanted for stockpiling arms.
When he was re-arraigned last Monday, fresh charges were levelled against the 48-year-old activist, who was also returned to a new detention facility.