Ibrahim Salami, a Beninese professor and lawyer to Yoruba Nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho) has explained why the agitator cannot be extradited to Nigeria.
Salami noted that there was no extradition request from the Nigerian government in the case file of Igboho and therefore, there was no ground for him to be returned to Nigeria.
The lawyer also debunked claims that Igboho had entered the West African country with a fake Beninese passport as he explained that Igboho entered the country with a valid Nigerian passport on his way to Germany.
Salami stated that he alongside the other four lawyers on the agitator’s legal team was trying everything possible to ensure Igboho remained in Benin as a refugee and not to Nigeria, considering the travails awaiting Igboho in Nigeria.
In an interview with BBC Yoruba, Salami said, “I am also a Yoruba man, I am from the Oduduwa lineage. I greet all Yoruba indigenes in Nigeria, Benin Republic and all over the world. We lawyers; we usually don’t talk on television and radio stations because we work in courts but there are so many lies on this Igboho matter and that was why I decided to give this explanation.
He said, “The passport with him was the Nigerian passport and in his Nigerian passport, he had a residency card in Germany, hence he doesn’t need a visa to go to Germany again.”
When asked if the Nigerian government had written the Benin Republic to extradite Igboho, the lawyer said, “That was the knot in the conversation because when Igboho was initially arrested, the police said he had been declared wanted in Nigeria but since his arrest, we tried to confirm if the Nigerian government had asked that he be extradited to Nigeria so we looked into the case file and noticed that the Nigerian government had not asked that he be returned to Nigeria.
“At the moment, that is not included in the case file. What is currently there is that the Nigerian government has explained its reasons for asking for the arrest of Igboho stating that he acted against the law in Nigeria that if the Beninese government is able to arrest him, that should be done.
“What we are not happy about is, he has not done anything wrong in Benin. If the Benin government arrests him, it is because of the Nigerian government and before they release him to Nigeria, there must be proof that Igboho truly went against the laws of Nigeria. At the moment, we have not seen any of such evidence.”
On whether it was possible to extradite Igboho to Nigeria from Benin Republic, he said, “there must be a law that states that if a suspect is arrested in one country, he can be released to the other on request. But for now, such laws do not exist. To extradite him will be very difficult but if it is on a political basis, we can’t answer for that because in politics, law does not really work but when it comes to the law, there is no such arrangement.
“Igboho was simply trying to go to Germany, he had no intentions to stay at Benin Republic, he was already at the airport in a bid to move and that was when he was arrested by the police and since then we have been trying our best to ensure he is exonerated.
”As long as the Nigerian government had not called for his extradition, what we are trying to do is to get him to become a Refugee in Benin Republic here so as to protect him. That’s what we are doing.
“By the grace of God, by Monday this case will be over. All things being equal, by Monday night, the verdict will be known to all. I urge all Igboho’s supporters to stop thronging the courts and stay at home and pray for him. They are passing a wrong message by protesting in front of the court when we are in there trying to get justice for him.”
SaharaReporters had on Thursday reported that the Cour De’appal De Cotonou, Benin Republic, where Igboho and his wife, Ropo, were arraigned on Thursday, ordered the wife to be released same day.
The court had ruled that Igboho should be returned to custody till Monday as his trial continued.