Sunday Igboho: PDP Chieftain Reveals Why Yoruba Activist Was Released in Benin
- Mixed reactions have continued to trail the release of Yoruba Nation Agitator, Sunday Igboho from Benin Republic detention
- A chieftain of Nigeria's main opposition party, the PDP, in an interview with Legit.ng said Igboho's case was different from Nnamdi Kanu's case and it should not be placed on the same level
- Meanwhile, Igboho's lead counsel, Chief Yomi Aliyyu (SAN) stated earlier that he cannot leave the country for any reason as he was freed on health grounds
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Director of New Media for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Anthony Ehilebo has established a difference between the case of Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
In an exclusive chat with Legit.ng, Ehilebo said both cases are different and it will be wrong to place them on the same scale.
Recall that Sunday Igboho has been granted bail by the Beninese government.
His freedom has generated heated arguments in the media and even in the southeast on why Nnamdi Kanu has continued to remain in detention.
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Some southeasterners have expressed optimism that Kanu will be the next to be released.
But Ehilebo has insisted that what applies in the case of Nnamdi Kanu cannot be applied in that of Igboho.
According to him, there was an Interpol notice on both individuals and Nnamdi Kanu had a broken bail condition when he fled. He said the same thing applies to Sunday Igboho. He said Igboho was granted bail and he fled.
“They claimed extreme circumstances forced them into exile, and I’m sure the court will take note of that. But Sunday Igboho was arrested not by the Nigerian government nor in collaboration with the Beninese government. It was the Beninese government on information by the former chief of army staff, Buratai that Sunday Igboho, a known wanted individual in Nigeria was traveling with a fake passport out of Benin. It was on that basis that the Beninese government arrested him.”
The lawyer said that in the case of Nnamdi Kanu, Nigeria’s operatives of NIA in collaboration with the Kenyan intelligence agency arrested Nnamdi Kanu in Kenya and brought him back to the country in what would be called extreme rendition. He argued that Sunday Igboho’s action of being caught with a fake passport could be considered on compassionate ground as he was only seeking asylum.
According to him:
“There is a clear distinction between these two cases. Although we can now decide to colour them. Because what I assume is that through the process of bail applications and everything, Sunday Igboho has been granted bail. Holding someone sometimes has to be reformative, not punitive. The compassionate thing about his case is that he was only seeking asylum with a fake passport. He was leaving to somewhere where he would be safe. Those conditions would probably be applied.’’
The PDP chieftain also looked at Igboho’s release from the angle of language and proximity of the Yoruba nation to the Republic of Benin.
He said Sunday Igboho has been in Benin and Beninese are partly Yorubas and that they speak Yoruba.
According to him,
“And he is said to be fighting for the Yoruba nation, so you have very senior Yoruba leaders also having the capacity to enter into conversation with the government of Benin Republic. It would not be fair to put these two situations on the same scale to say they are the same thing.’’
He argued that they are definitely not the same as they have different ingredients. He said while one was an extreme rendition, the other was the capture of someone by the Benin government. He said that proximity also worked for Igboho and the Yoruba nation.
Benin is neighbour to the Yoruba nation and kingdom.
“I’m trying very hard to see such proximity in the southeast, which is the problem I think they have. They are sort of in a box. They don’t have that kind of foreign goodwill. The only way out is for them to look at the Onitsha Port and open it. I think this ties back to why people are agitating that the next president should come from the southeast."
Ehilebo said he personally thinks that if Igbos are given the chance as a country and Nigerians are magnanimous as a country, there will be peace in the country.
“We will be able to look each other in the face and become more liberal about national issues, even regionalization of the country. And some people like in 1958 are not ready to go yet. And with the kind of problem they are facing right now, no region in the north will be able to sustain itself with the subvention from what is coming from the south-south. If you take that away, they will collapse.”
Igboho's detention misplacement of justice, Gani Adams fumes
Meanwhile, before his reported release, the Aareonakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Ige Adams, described the continuous detention of Igboho without trial as misplacement of justice, insisting the Benin court has no respect for human rights.
He, however, applauded the efforts of the activist's counsel, Chief Yomi Aliyyu (SAN), to seek redress from the ECOWAS court.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, February 8, and sent to Legit.ng by his special assistant on media, Kehinde Aderemi, Iba Adams expressed disappointment at how the Republic of Benin handled Igboho's case.