Lawyers sabotaging Igboho in Benin

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The arrest in Benin Republic of Yoruba secessionist whom Nigeria accused of—and declared wanted for—stockpiling weapons has triggered a war on two fronts: legal and propaganda.

It appears the latter is being won by the team of lawyers defending Sunday Adeyemo Igboho whom the Beninese authority detained.

For the former, the lawyers have tied up their client in a knot.

At least in five ways.

  1. Before, the Sunday Adeyemo Igboho’s lawyers confirmed Nigerian and Benin signed a treaty in 1984 concerning extradition. His lead counsel Yomi Aliyu went to town early with that. “The Extradition Treaty of 1984 between Togo Nigeria, Ghana and Republic of Benin excluded political fugitives,” the long silk said.

    Now the four countries don’t have such pact.

The lawyers handling the case, according to Banji Akintoye, leader of the Ilana Omo Oodua, who quoted the lawyers, said lgboho cannot be extradited to Nigeria for one of two reasons: “That contrary to insinuations, Nigeria and Benin have no Extradition Agreement.”

2. Benin is a good country that respects international laws and rights. Unlike Nigeria which ranks 120 out of 180 countries, Benin Republic ranks 81. It’s really comforting, for the lawyers. “The disposition of Benin Republic is that it is a country that respects the rule of law,” said Pelumi Olajengbesi, another of the lwyers.

But upon arrest, Igboho was shackled up in detention, beaten by upstanding Benin Republic security agents.

“I called him, and he was weeping like a baby as he talked,” said Aliyu. “They handcuffed him, and hit his hands in detention.”

3. Before, the Beninese immigration arrested—and started trying—Igboho for faking documents to snag a flight to Germany. He was arraigned twice, and the hearing adjourned to July 26.

But, now, Olanjegbesi said Igboho ( a German by reason of the latest revelation) wasn’t arrested.

“He wanted to make himself available to the government. If not, Sunday Igboho is not someone who can be arrested that way.”

4. Igboho, it was established, got his German resident permit, international passport, others’ German passports retrieved by the DSS during the June raid on his home in Ibadan). He was never a passport carrying German then.

Now the lawyers said their client had his bona fide documents.

“What was found on him were Nigerian and German passports,” another lawyer Ibrahim Salami said.

The lawyers have thus opened another gap: Did Igboho forge a German passport?

So far the lawyers have been all talks about making Germany fight for its emergency citizen Igboho—if that’s true. (Igboho’s wife is the only German recognized between the couple).

But Germany hasn’t declared its position on the matter, especially about Igboho’s extradition.

5. Before, the lawyers embarked on media sabre-rattling, claiming they are fighting to prevent Benin from returning Igboho to Nigeria.

Now they have toned down: They are working so Benin won’t allow hasty extradition.

“We are ensuring that everything is done in accordance with the law,” said Olanjegbesi in a Punch interview. “We expect that there should be a repatriation hearing before they can extradite him if at all they would do that.”

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