The arrest of Yoruba secession agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho had come as a shock to many of his followers and supporters.
Igboho was arrested by security operatives at an airport in Cotonou, Benin Republic alongside his wife, Ropo, while trying to catch a flight to Germany.
The Department of State Services (DSS) had on July 1 raided the residence of Igboho in Ibadan, Oyo State. The activist, alongside others, had planned to hold a ”Yoruba Nation Rally” in Lagos two days after the raid.
The DSS raided the residence, killed two people, and arrested more than 10 of his associates but Igboho escaped.
The agency alleged that Igboho was stockpiling weapons, and subsequently declared him wanted. The agitator had been on the run since the raid until his eventual arrest.
Since Igboho’s arrest, major groups and leaders of the South-West have condemned the arrest and urged the Beninese government not to extradite the activist to Nigeria given the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government’s clampdown on peaceful protesters and agitators.
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Gistcore media, however, observed that there are some groups and prominent people of Yoruba extraction, especially monarchs who had remained silent on the issue.
Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo had yet to make a statement on Igboho’s arrest.
Despite his criticism of the insecurity in the country, Obasanjo had once said it is “almost idiotic” to push for Nigeria’s disintegration at a period that Africa gears towards political, social, and economic reintegration.
He had noted that Nigeria’s situation is unpalatable, but disintegration is not the solution.
Pledging his support for ‘One Nigeria’, Obasanjo stated that the strength of the various ethnic groups in the country lies in diversity.
”If all that we have is the Republic of Oduduwa for those who said so, their position is understandable. If that is all we have, members of that country will be diminished compared to be a citizen of Nigeria. Citizens of Oduduwa Republic or any other republic from Nigeria will be diminished compared to citizens of Nigeria,” he argued.
Former Lagos State Governor who has been rumoured to be nursing a Presidential ambition in 2023 had vehemently opposed the agitations for the Yoruba Nation. He is, however, yet to comment on Igboho’s arrest.
Tinubu, who had maintained a close relationship with Northern Nigeria, probably to solicit support for his presidential ambition due to their numerical strength has said that he is for ‘One Nigeria’.
In May, Tinubu who is the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress alongside some other South-West leaders warned Igboho and other secessionists to desist from their agitation.
Tinubu convened a meeting with Governors of Lagos, Ogun and Osun states, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor Dapo Abiodun and Adegboyega Oyetola respectively, and Bisi Akande, former National Chairman of the party, among others in response to the raging agitation for the Yoruba nation by a section of the region, with several rallies held in South-West states.
Alaafin of Oyo
Popular monarch, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, is also yet to make a statement regarding Igboho’s arrest in the Benin Republic.
Some weeks ago, the Alaafin wrote an open letter to the government regarding insecurity in the country, especially attacks by Fulani herdsmen in the Southwest geo-political zone, as he warned that if insecurity was not immediately addressed, it could lead to other serious national catastrophes and security challenges.
It is, however, notable that Alaafin showed his support for different freedom fighters and activists who have emerged in recent times.
He was quoted as saying, ”Where conventional approach failed, alternative means are upheld. Sunday Igboho, Amotekun, Agbekoya, OPC, local vigilante, and others could be crude but I will say it here, no crude way to survive or stay alive. The first law of living is survival, we survive to negotiate how to live together.”
Olubadan of Ibadan
Yoruba monarch, the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, has also remained silent on the issue since Tuesday when the incident occurred.
On July 8, Igboho’s supporters and followers led a protest to the Olubadan’s Palace, demanding the release of agitators arrested by the DSS, while warning the Federal Government to stop further attacks on Igboho.
Olubadan had been accused of receiving N50 million from the Nigerian Government to make the arrest of the activist possible.
However, his media aide, Adeola Oloko debunked this claim, stating that the monarch does not need such a huge amount of money.
He said, “I want to seize this opportunity to inform the public (that) Kabiyesi (the King) didn’t collect a dime from anybody. Sunday Igboho is a Yoruba man, he lives in Ibadan. He is a son of Kabiyesi Olubadan, and we are duty-bound to protect him. At 92 going to 93, what does he need much money for?”
That was the last heard from the Olubadan regarding Igboho or his travails at the hands of security operatives.
Oluwo of Iwo
Two weeks ago, the Oluwo of Iwo, Abdulrasheed Akanbi, pleaded with the Buhari-led government to forgive Igboho.
In his letter titled, ‘Igboho Saga: Oluwo Intervenes, Writes Buhari,’ advised the President to slow down the security trail on Igboho as he promised to bring the agitator for a peace talk at the appropriate time.
The letter read in part, “He is a novice in handling issues against the government. He is a gift to us in Yoruba. He has pledged his readiness to listen to us. I appeal to your Excellency to slow down the security trail on Sunday Igboho. I have the assurance adhering to this piece will go a long way in strengthening the unity of Nigeria. I promise your Excellency that Igboho will mind his steps henceforth. He has suffered a lot. He would step down agitations. I will bring him for a peace talk at the appropriate time…”
Despite his initial effort, Oluwo had yet to make a statement on Igboho’s current travail as of the time of filing this report.
South-West Governors Forum
The governors of the South-West region have yet to issue any statement on the current travails of the Yoruba activist.
Some weeks ago, the governors held a virtual emergency meeting over current national issues affecting the country and the region.
A source who spoke with Punch had said the governors convened the meeting to discuss sundry issues, however, it is not clear if the discussions were about the raid on Igboho’s house by the Department of State Services.
However, it was gathered that the issue was discussed, among others.
Governors at the meeting were Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).