From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Scores of angry persons, yesterday, stormed the cities of Cotonou, Republic of Benin and Ibadan, Oyo State, over the arrest of Yoruba Nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemi fondly known as Sunday Igboho.
In Cotonou, the protesters besieged court in anticipation of his extradition hearing while in the Oyo State capital, placards weilding youths defied the downpour to condemn his continued detention in the ECOWAS country.
In a video on the Facebook page of Olayomi Koiki, Igboho’s media aide, the Yoruba in Cotonou were seen singing solidarity songs and demanding freedom for him outside the Benin Republic Appeal Court (Palais De Justice, Cour D’Appel De Cotonou) in Cotonou.
There was high expectation that Igboho would be taken to the court yesterday for hearing on the case on whether he should be extradited to Nigeria or be granted an assylum.
Some lawyers were also seen at the court premises just as security agents were strategically deployed to maintain the peace.
It could not be ascertained last night if he appeared in court as several calls and text messages to his lawyers and even government officials including Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai (retd), Nigeria’s Ambassador to Benin were ignored.
However, chanting Yoruba anthem, demostrators at the court brandished placards with messages which included: “No going back on Yoruba Nation”, “Igboho Oosa is our hero”, “General Buhari is a dictator”, “We are tired of Buhari and his Fulani killers.”
According to them, Benin Republic has a solid justice system. They expressed confidence that the justice system would let him off.
Igboho was arrested on Monday night with his German wife, Ropo, at Cotonou Airport on his way to Germany.
Similarly, scores of youths staged peaceful protests in some major streets of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. Numbering over 200, they took off from the frontage of Igboho’s house in Soka, Ibadan, that was raided in the early hours of July 1, 2021, by the Department of State Security (DSS), over allegation of stockpiling arms and ammunition to destabilise Nigeria on the pretext of fighting for freedom for his people.
During the operation, the DSS in collaboration with other security agencies, arrested 13 persons, killed two persons and went away with their bodies. He was also declared wanted.
The protesters thronged Soka roads, streets in Sanyo, Felele, to Challenge area, and to the Music House, housing the Fresh FM of the popular gospel music artiste, Yinka Ayefele, on Lagos bypass, Challenge, before they returned to their take-off point.
The shout of ‘Igboho Oosa’ rent the atmosphere as they thronged Ibadan streets.
Inscriptions on their placards read: “Free Ighobo now,” “I stand with Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho Oosa’”, “Chief Sunday is fighting for freedom”, “No going back”, “Chief Sunday is fighting for freedom,” “Alaanu Talika, kinni Sunday se?” “E beru Olorun”, “Idajo yin de tan,” “E fi Ighobo sile!!!”, “Igboho is not a criminal, I stand with Igboho.”
Some of the protesters, who spoke to journalists, included Oyedokun Abiodun fondly called Aworo, David Ajulo, Azeez Sullaiman, Alhaji Yusuf Ajikobi and Atakoro Omo Yerepe.
Said David Ajulo: “I am appealing to Yoruba monarchs, they should rise up in defence of Igboho. It should be known that many people in Yorubaland have suffered a lot in the hands of criminal herdsmen. They have raped, killed, kidnapped, took ransom and destroyed farmlands. So, many people are grieving in Yorubaland. Nobody came to their rescue, even the Federal Government and security agencies did not come to assist the Yoruba being terrorised by criminal herdsmen.
“If you have the record, you can challenge me on the number of criminal herdsmen that have been arrested, prosecuted and jailed for committing those crimes mentioned. Based on the fact that the Federal Government is not tackling the menace, the criminal herdsmen still live in Yorubaland and they continued to commit the atrocities.
“Igboho rose in defence of his people. It is now that the Federal Government has risen against him. This is not right. The Federal Government should make correction.”
Azeez Sullaiman said the Federal Government should remember how the war that led to the end of the First Republic started in Ibadan between 1960 and 1964, saying: “We are not praying for civil war like Biafra. But when a goat is pushed to the wall, it will fight back.
“At the same time, the Federal Government should release those arrested on July 1, during a bloody raid of his house in Ibadan. We are also demanding for the release of the Yoruba nation agitators that were arrested during a peaceful rally in Ojota, Lagos, on Saturday July 3, this year. We are aware that the court has granted them bail, but the bail conditions were too stringent. They have not been able to meet the bail conditions.”
One of the protesters who declined to give his name said: “Help us ask Buhari and his people, what is the offence of Igboho? He asked Fulani herders killing and raping our people to leave; is that an offence? The Federal Government under Buhari knows where bandits and Boko Haram leaders are, but they ignore them, preferring to use Nigeria resources to kidnap peace loving people and put them in jail.
“This government watched a northern cleric romancing bandits, visiting them in the forest, but this government still claims not to know bandits whereabouts.
“We call on our south-west governors and Yoruba monarchs to rise up and fight for the people that put them in position. It is not a crime if someone is asking for an end to oppression. The federal government is pushing too far in the way it is handling the issues of Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu.”
Another speaker, said: “The Federal Government and enemies of Yoruba nation wanted to provoke the boys of Igboho to fight and probably shed blood so that they could press murder charges against Igboho. No it is not going to happen, the way they thought it would happen.”
Atakoro Omo Yerepe, however, appealed to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi and other prominent Yoruba monarchs as well as the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, to rise in defence of Igboho.
Abiodun appealed to traditional rulers and Yoruba leaders to rise up to the plights of Igboho, saying, “he (Igboho) is fighting for the course of the masses”.
Also, Ajulo and Suleiman urged the security operatives to do more in combating the security challenges facing the nation.
According to them, the problems created as a result of insecurity prompted Igboho and the likes to rise up in defence of their respective communities.
Igboho was said to have escaped prying security officials and was on about to board when he was accosted and told he could not board. Then, he reportedly left without being noticed by security. The travel agent that that booked the flight for him was said to have called Igboho that the matter had been resolved and that he should come back. He was arrested when he returned to the airport.