IGBOHO : FEAR GRIPS SUPPORTERS AS COTONOU TRIAL CONTINUES AFTER MIDNIGHT – POLICE DISPERSE SUPPORTERS

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  • No Immigration-related Charges Against Igboho In Benin — Lawyer

Tension escalated on Monday evening in Cotonou, Benin Republic as police dispersed the supporters of Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho from the premises of the Cour De’appal De Cotonou as the activist’s trial dragged on for most part of the day in the West African country.

Headlinenews gathered that Igboho, who was brought into the court early morning before hundreds of his supporters packed the venue, was quizzed till late evening (up to 10 pm) by prosecutors at the court behind closed-door, raising concerns among many of his supporters who are said to be expecting a pronouncement of the court on the night, on the matter of transnational interest brought before it.

The court in Cotonou resumed sitting on Monday as many Yoruba speaking supporters of Ighoho, who are citizens of Benin Republic stormed the court premises to declare support for the activist, described as a political prisoner of conscience.

Some policemen stormed the court premises in about seven trucks to disperse the supporters of Ighoho who were present at the court premises awaiting the ruling of the court.

Also, members of the press were barred from the court proceedings. Many have also expressed concerns on the situation, saying the Beninoise authorities are allegedly trying to conduct a secret trial for the activist.

Although the reason for the action remains sketchy as of press time, however, sources said Benin Republic courts are not used to large crowds during sittings. However, the supporters were said to have converged at another venue not far away from the court premises.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Salami, one of the Benin Republic-based lawyers of Sunday Igboho had disclosed that the court was still awaiting the extradition charges from the Nigerian government.

According to the lawyer, the Nigerian government would possibly be presenting a piece of video evidence.

While reacting to the viral reports that Igboho is being tried on immigration-related issues, Salami debunked the allegations, saying that only a Nigerian passport was found on the Yoruba rights activist.

He added that his client was not being tried for possessing a fake passport.

The lawyer had said, “When he left Nigeria, he took the backdoor into Benin. It was at the airport that security operatives stopped him that he was on the watch list. He didn’t go against any law in Benin Republic. They didn’t find any Beninese passport on him. He had a Nigerian passport with a German residency card. He needed no visa at that point.

“When we understudied the case, we realised that the Nigerian government had not filed a case for extradition. They only claimed that he is wanted in Nigeria for criminal offences. Our argument is that he was arrested because of Nigeria’s request, and there is no proof to show that he is a criminal.”

In Benin Republic, yesterday, the police chased out hundreds of Yoruba Nation activists and journalists from the premises of the Cour De’appal De Cotonou, the venue of the hearing of the case against Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho.

It was gathered that the policemen came in about seven trucks and dispersed the Yoruba Nation supporters who gathered on the court premises awaiting the position of the court. The Beninoise court was still in session at the time of filing this report.

The court had earlier barred journalists and supporters of Igboho from the courtroom but allowed the agitator’s lawyers and his wife, Ropo, inside the courtroom. The court is investigating the allegations brought against Igboho by the Federal Government, which claimed, among other things, that the activist is a gunrunner. The court is also expected to rule on the extradition or otherwise of Igboho.

Igboho and his wife were arrested at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou last week Monday, while they tried to catch a flight to Germany. The court had last Thursday ordered the release of his wife but returned Igboho to the police cell.

As early as 7:00 a.m. yesterday, many supporters from Nigeria, as well as those in the Benin Republic, had besieged the court to identify with Igboho. The trial failed to start until around 4:00 p.m. despite the fact that Igboho was kept in one of the prosecutors’ rooms since the early hours of yesterday.

Frustrated by the delay, some of Igboho’s supporters were seen venting their anger on anyone taking pictures or recording videos of events in the court premises, including journalists.

It was, however, gathered that the trial of Igboho may be adjourned to Thursday. According to a source close to his legal team, after meeting with the embattled Yoruba Nation activist in the room where he was kept since morning, everything suggests the trial may not be concluded on Monday as many have anticipated.

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, lauded the Ooni of Ife, Oba Eniitan Ogunwusi Ojaja 11; the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji Ogungunniso 1; and other Yoruba monarchs in the Republic of Benin for steps taken on the Igbohos. Afenifere specifically praised Oba Adetunji for sending a delegation to Cotonou.

Igboho is the arrowhead of activists agitating for a Yoruba nation and putting an end to harm being inflicted on farmers and women in Yorubaland by Fulani herders. The commendation of the royal father was contained in a release issued on behalf of Chief Ayo Adebanjo, acting leader of Afenifere by Comrade Jare Ajayi, National Publicity Secretary of the organisation.

Also, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, yesterday mobilised 10 prominent Benin Republic monarchs to support the embattled Yoruba nation agitator at the ongoing trial in Cotonou. The Aare Onakankanfo’s intervention came as part of last-minute effort to ensure there is justice and fairness in the ongoing trial of Igboho.

In a statement, yesterday, media aide to Aare Onakankanfo, Kehinde Aderemi, said the monarchs have been assigned to play both traditional and fatherly roles in ensuring that Igboho’s rights to freedom is protected without abuse or misjudgments.

Leading the traditional rulers were the Alajowun of Ajowun land, Oba Signon Adekilumo; Alajase of Ajase-Ile Porto-Novo, Oba Alajase Onikoyi; Onitowe of Towe land, Oba Shitu Adeleke; Ologunba of Ogunba, Oba Adio Ogunju; Oniohorije of Ohori land, Oba Awelede Salomon; Onimasse of Mase land, Oba Akerekoro; Palais Royal de Seme Krake, Sa Majeste Roi de KRAKE;

Palais Royal de Ilase Sa Majeste Roi de Ilase, Oloye R. Oguntosin Taye; the Tolulase of Ajase-Ile Kingdom, Porto-Novo; and Aremo Onikoyi Abesan Keefa Ajase-Ile, among others.

Also, two delegations from the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1, are currently in Benin Republic to observe the proceedings of the court case involving Chief Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Igboho.

Recall that the two Yoruba monarchs had constituted a committee assigned with the duties to follow the extradition process of Igboho, who hails from the southwestern region of Nigeria.

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