The embattled self acclaimed Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, may face 21 years imprisonment over the Beninese passport he tendered before his failed trip to Germany.
Igboho together with his wife, Ropo, were arrested on Monday at an airport in Cotonou while trying to take Germany flight to evade DSS arrest in Nigeria.
According to reports, Igboho allegedly presented a fake travelling document to Immigration officials in Benin.
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) on July 9 had Igboho placed on a stop-list.
NIS alerted the Nigerian police, the DSS and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) that he was making efforts to acquire a new Nigerian passport as part of plans to flee the country.
As the authorities uncovered his strategy, Igboho, it was gathered, made arrangements for a Beninese passport.
Recall that DAILY GIST had reported on Thursday that Igboho appeared at the Cour De’appal De Cotonou, Benin Republic for hearing on his case
According to reports, The charge levelled against igboho was not related to extradition as widely expected and speculated
It’s for immigration-related offences, DAILY GIST has learnt.
Igboho was said to be in possession of a forged Beninois passport.
The authorities of Benin Republic said they would dock him for the alleged forgery
After first hearing on Thursday, Igboho was remanded inside prison in Benin Republic.
Consequently, The Court D’Appeal in Cotouno adjourned the case of Igboho till Monday, July 26th, 2021.
However it was gathered that Igboho’s wife who was also arraigned on Thursday has been released on Thursday evening.
The court directed its officials to return the passport and other documents seized from the wife of the activist, Ropo
Igboho is awaiting his fate at the Cour De’appal De Cotonou, Benin Republic, following his arraignment by the authorities of the country for immigration-related offences.
The counsel to the activist, Yomi Aliyu while speaking with Newsmen on the development confirmed that the FG has failed to file extradition charges against his client in court.
Alliyu noted that the Nigerian government is pleading with the Benin republic to keep igboho pending the time they will file charges against him.
Aliyu said, “Not only that his wife has been released, but the FGN also refused to file an extradition charge against him. They are begging the Benin Republic to keep him pending the time they will file charges against him. Which serious country will accept that”?
A statement by Communications Manager, Ilana Omo Oodua, Maxwell Adeleye, quoted Igboho’s lawyers as saying that the case had been adjourned till Monday.
The statement was titled, ‘Update on Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho’s case in Benin Republic’.
The lawyer also revealed that the court adjourned the case to give Nigeria more opportunity to bring evidence against the rights activist.
The statement read, “Yesterday, the court set Mrs. Adeyemo, lgboho’s wife free since it has been found that she has committed no offence and there’s no complaints whatsoever against her. Consequently, her German passport was returned to her.
“The lawyers handling the case reported after the proceedings that Chief Sunday Adeyemo lgboho cannot be extradited to Nigeria for two principal reasons:
“That contrary to insinuations, Nigeria and Benin have no Extradition Agreement.
“That Nigeria has not been able to come up with charges that could lead the court to order lgboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
“What Nigerian Government came up with were mere allegations against Ighoho such as trafficking in arms and inciting violence that could result in the social disturbance without evidence which the Government of Benin Republic considered spurious and untenable, and insufficient to warrant extradition.
“Lastly, the case has been adjourned till Monday 26th July to allow the Nigerian Government bring up whatever evidence they may have, and Mr. lgboho has been taken back to the police custody.”
Expressing fear over the fate of Igboho, a lawmaker in Benin, Hon. Tolulase, in an interview with BBC Yoruba services, said the situation is not looking good for the agitator.
The legislator explained that although Benin is a small country, the laws are strictly enforced.
He said: “On this passport issue, take me for instance, I’m from Benin but married to an Ijebu woman. We have five kids. She gave birth to two in Nigeria, three in Benin.
“Only the three have Beninese passports, the two others and my wife do not have. She can only apply if we marry legally in Benin.
“Even after the court wedding, the passport is not issued immediately. She will wait for some years and must go through the processes.
“The first thing you must have is National Identity Card. Now, if you’re not a citizen, the only way you can get a passport is if you legally marry a Beninoise.
“You can see it’s not easy. So, if you procure a fake one, you’ll be uncovered because you don’t have a National Identity Card. The details are linked.
“The card must have a family name. About three to five of your relatives must confirm to the government they know you and your early years.
“It is after they testify that the court will issue the card, which can then be used to apply for a passport. If such is doctored, the punishment is 21 years imprisonment. It’s a serious offence.
“And it’s not just the owner of the fake passport that will be prosecuted, all those who know about it will be charged to court.
“On Chief Sunday Igboho, the Beninese government will carry out a detailed investigation that will expose everyone involved in his passport obtainment.”
Meanwhile, Igboho’s lawyers are fighting against his extradition to Nigeria where he may face treason charges.
The Federal Government, its agencies and South-West governors remain silent on his ordeal, but his supporters within and outside Nigeria are calling for his unconditional release, insisting self-determination is not a crime.
President, Women Arise and Centre for Change, Joe Okei-Odumakin, has appealed to the Beninoise government not to repatriate Igboho.
She said Igboho cannot be assured of safety or justice in Nigeria and “will come to grief if he is extradited under the prevailing circumstances