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Sunday Ighoho: What Benin Republic Is Teaching Nigeria About The Rule Of Law


It would have been hard to believe if anyone predicted decades ago that a small-sized neighbour of Nigeria would be teaching the most populous black nation in the world about Rule of Law sometime in the future. This insinuation went beyond fiction as the arrest of Yoruba separatist leader, Sunday Adeyemo (a.k.a Sunday Igboho) by Interpol in Benin Republic played out in the past few weeks.

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Despite the dozens of times the Muhammadu Buhari administration has bullied the neighbouring Benin Republic with stringent trade measures and border closure in the past, the country stood its stance not to simply hand over Igboho to the Nigerian government for alleged charges of arms possession.

Benin Republic simply insisted that it will not be part of any process outside due process on his extradition. It became a mentorship session for Nigeria on rule of law, due process and constitutionalism.

There are laws and signed charters between countries binding every country in the world to extradition charges. There is Article 28 (2) of the ECOWAS Convention on Extradition which prevents the extradition of individuals without a trial in the country where the arrest took place. Asking that those laws be ignored reeks of desperation on the part of the Nigerian government seeking to unlawfully incarcerate ethnic separatist leaders.

The scenario which played out with how Nnamdi Kanu was brought back to Nigeria so far is nothing short of a repeat of the Umaru Dikko kidnap affair of 1984.

No known extradition trial was instituted against Nnamdi Kanu in Kenya before he was reportedly bundled to Nigeria. And while Kenya may have been complicit in breaking the law for its own selfish benefit, a lowly Benin Republic is teaching Nigeria and Kenya how alleged criminals are extradited.

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On Monday, 26th July, Sunday Igboho appeared at a Beninese court to defend himself against extradition charges brought against him by the Nigerian government.

The Beninese court had adjourned Igboho’s case till Monday after his five lawyer defence team was not able to prove that he had no case to answer to the Beninese prosecutor.

While refuting rumours that Sunday Igboho was arrested for possessing a fake Beninese International passport at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, the Republic of Benin on the way to Germany with his wife, Ropo, the Communications Manager of Ilana Omo Oodua, Maxwell Adeleye, said:

“We reiterate that Chief Ighoho is not under any immigration-related probe in Benin Republic.”

Meanwhile, several supports groups and notable individuals from Yorubaland have mobilised to bank on ethnic capital with Benin Republic to pressure the court against granting the extradition.

Even if eventually, Sunday Igboho loses his extradition case at the Beninese court and he is sent back to face the biased charges set against him by the State Security Service (SSS), concerned Nigerians would at least have been satisfied that due process, rule of law and the constitution was adhered to.

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Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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