Ibrahim Salami, one of the Cotonou, Benin Republic-based lawyers of Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, said the activist might be released by the Cour D’Appal De Cotonou on Monday (tomorrow).
According to him, Igboho has two more stages to undergo before he will be freed.
The law professor, in an interview with BBC Yoruba, complained that the police in Benin Republic handcuffed the hands of his client five days after his arrest.
The PUNCH had reported that the Beninese court adjourned Igboho’s case till Monday after his five lawyers failed to convince the prosecutor that he had no case to answer.
The Beninese authorities have, however, released Ropo, the agitator’s wife, who was arrested with the 48-year-old activist 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.
On his part, Igboho was returned to police custody.
The lawyers had said that during the hearing, prosecutors claimed Igboho was on a watchlist for alleged trafficking in arms, inciting violence that could result in social disturbance and causing disunity in Nigeria.
Salami said, “In Benin here, there are three stages (judicial protocol) of trial. The first is with the prosecutor, the second one is with the investigating judge and the third will determine whether he is guilty and should be sentenced or not.
“The next phase is on Monday. The first phase with the prosecutor has been concluded. When we get to court on Monday, we will be facing the investigation judge, and after that, we will face the judge that will determine whether he should be sentenced or not.”
When asked if the process would end on Monday, he added, “Yes, it will end on Monday. Before the end of Monday, we will know if the Benin Republic government wants to jail or release him. That will be clear on Monday.”
…says Benin can extradite Igboho by political arrangement
While urging Igboho’s supporters to stay away from the court proceedings on Monday, the lawyer said Nigeria has no legal means to get the activist extradited.
He said, “When we went to court on Thursday, we had a large turnout of Igbho’s supporters. I frowned on their action. They should stay at home and let us do our job. Igboho is accused of causing disorderliness and civil unrest. If they are now mobilising to court, it may send a wrong signal. They should support him with prayers from home.
“There is no accord between Nigeria and Benin that allows Benin to extradite Igboho to Nigeria. He can only be extradited on political grounds. In that regard, the law won’t apply.”
Giving an update on the case on Saturday, Salami decried that a lot of lies had been flying round over Igboho’s case.
He said, “We are five lawyers defending him. When we saw him in the police station, he was not chained in the leg or beaten. What they did to him that is wrong was that they handcuff him inside the cell such that he finds it difficult to eat or ease himself. Another person has to help him if he needs to use the toilet or eat.
“Human right does not permit us to do this. We called the attention of the police boss and prosecutor to it. As we speak, he is still handcuffed.”
…insists Benin Republic passport not found on Igboho
The counsel insisted that only a Nigerian passport was found on the Yoruba rights activist, adding that he was not being tried for possessing a fake passport.
This is contrary to earlier reports that Igboho is being tried for possessing a Beninese passport despite not being a citizen of the country.
Following the bloody raid on his Sooka residence in Ibadan, Oyo State, the Department of State Services had earlier claimed local and international driving licences in his name. ATM cards, a German residence permit No. YO2N6K1NY bearing his name, and a passport were allegedly recovered.
Salami hinted that Igboho was tried for “immigration offences” but said that had been neutralised with the activist’s application for asylum.
The lawyer 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 watchlist. 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.”