Beninoise courts not used to large crowds, Igboho’s lawyers caution supporters

Lawyers have asked supporters of Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, to shun coming to the Cour D’Appel De Cotonou where the activist is expected to appear today.

This was contained in a statement by the leader of Yoruba Self-determination Movement Worldwide, Prof. Banji Akintoye, ahead of the court sitting on Monday.

The statement signed by Akintoye’s Legal Adviser, Olasupo Ojo, was titled, “Special Appeal on Court attendance for Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho’.

This is coming after a Yoruba Group wooed Nigerians with free accommodation to boost attendance during the court proceeding.

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 statement read, “Information has reached us that many Yoruba Nation Self-determination activists are planning to go and witness, and even protest at the court proceedings involving Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho in Benin Republic court. Based on my meeting and discussion with the lawyers representing Sunday Igboho, it has become necessary to issue this statement as follows:

“We commend and appreciate the immense support already received from all Yorubas,
Yoruba groups and friends of Yorubas worldwide.

“We have assembled the best lawyers within Republic of Benin and an International law expert from Paris, France for the legal defence of Chief Sunday Igboho and they are all working well under our supervision. We are satisfied with their work up till now.

“The Court system and judges in Benin Republic are different from the Nigerian Court system and judges. They are not used to having a crowded court premise hence they may misinterpret the presence of too many people in the Court premises as an attempt to harass, intimidate and overwhelm the court which opinion can have a negative effect on Chief Sunday Igboho.

“The Nigerian government has falsely painted a bad picture that Chief Sunday Adeyemo is a gun-runner and a terrorist with large followership. The presence of crowds may be capitalised upon by the Nigerian Government lawyers as corroborative of their allegations.

“The presence of a huge crowd may pose some security concerns to security agencies and operatives in Benin Republic and may compel them to adopt some stringent measures to prevent a crowded court and attendant danger.

“Our lawyers are not comfortable with the prospect of too much crowd spoiling their good work and have urged that we appeal to our people to refrain from crowding the court.

“We, therefore, urge all lovers of the Yoruba Nation and Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho Oosa in Nigeria to please refrain from going to Cotonou for the Court proceedings. Such a trip may be
rendered useless by the inadequate size of the Court Room. We shall be adequately represented by the Yoruba Community in Benin Republic.

“They have been very wonderful hence we should allow them to represent us very well. We promise that a detailed report of proceedings in court shall be made public after the court sittings. We crave the understanding of everyone in this sensitive matter.”

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.

While urging Igboho’s supporters to stay away from the court proceedings on Monday, Ibrahim Salami, one of the Cotonou, Benin Republic-based lawyers of Sunday Igboho assured them that the legal team will fight harder to ensure his freedom.

He said, “When we went to court on Thursday, we had a large turnout of Igbho’s supporters. I frowned at 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.

“It is important that Igboho is not extradited to Nigeria under any circumstances. It is better for him to die here in Benin than be extradited to Nigeria.”

culled from THE NATION