A Nigerian-American philanthropist, Toyin Dawodu, has urged the Benin Republic government to immediately release Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho) who is currently detained in the country's prison.

Igboho, who was arrested by the Republic of Benin authorities at the Cotonou Airport on July 19, 2021, has since been in a detention facility in the neighbouring country.

Sunday Igboho

Dawodu, in a statement issued on Tuesday, warned that the Beninese government must ensure the adequate release of the activist within seven days or “face serious consequences of the nature of an economic embargo that as a country, it may never recover from, in a very long time.”

The philanthropist stated that the continual remand of Igboho, a popular figure among the Yoruba might attract the fury of the people who are responsible for 80% of its revenue as a country, in the last 60 years.

This, he said will have a negative impact on the economy of the neighbouring West African state.

Addressing journalists on Tuesday, Dawodu stated, “This briefing is intended to put pressure on the authorities of the Republic of Benin to unconditionally release Sunday Igboho (aka Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo) within 7 Days from the release of this statement or face serious consequences of the nature of an economic embargo that as a country, it may never recover from, in a very long time.

“Whereas I am an American citizen of Nigerian descent, my heart has always been with the land of my origin, Africa and particularly, Nigeria. I believe strongly in truth, justice, and liberty hence, the reason I have always supported in the past and present, causes that promote human rights, justice, and the wellbeing of all Nigerians.

“I believe that Sunday Igboho has not committed any offence by being an agitator for fairness and security for the Yoruba people of Nigeria. There is currently no law that is against a man’s call for justice for his people.

“Therefore, I make this demand on behalf of many Africans in diaspora, particularly of Yoruba origin and all persons who detest injustice and oppression, that the Republic of Benin be mindful to do the following in the immediate:

“The Republic of Benin must immediately release Sunday Igboho unconditionally as he is being unnecessarily being persecuted by the Nigerian government, on account of his political views, which do not constitute an offence both in Nigeria and the Republic of Benin.

“The Republic of Benin must not, under any circumstances, hand over Sunday Igboho to the Nigerian authorities for them to torture or dehumanize him.

“This is in tandem with the international law principle of nonrefoulement which prevents a person that is fleeing political persecution to be forcefully returned to the country of prosecution. The Nigerian justice system is inherently oppressive and systemically weak against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari that has been famous for not obeying court orders.

“The Republic of Benin must allow Sunday Igboho, after his unconditional release, to exercise his right to freedom of movement and to that extent be free to travel out of the Republic of Benin to any country of his choice.

“It must be clear to the authorities of the Republic of Benin that the above demands are not mere wishes or whimsicalities as there is a strong network across the world that is prepared to visit serious economic sanctions on it as a country if it fails to honour its international human rights obligations to persecuted individuals like Sunday Igboho.

“While it is also clear that the Republic of Benin is afraid to offend the Nigerian government and therefore prepared to kowtow or accede to the Nigerian government’s demand to continue to detain Sunday Igboho until he is returned to Nigeria, the Beninese authorities forget that indeed 80% of its revenue as a country, in the last 60 years, have come from imports made by Nigerians through the Idiroko-Abeokuta border trades.

“Republic of Benin must realise that Sunday Igboho is an extremely popular figure among the Yoruba people of Nigeria, and they have been the ones principally engaged in the border trades which have greatly enriched the Republic of Benin.

“Therefore, the Republic of Benin must tread carefully not to offend the Yoruba people, or else, the consequences of a trade embargo imposed by the Yoruba people against the Republic of Benin will spell an economic disaster to it as a country. There is a very capacity to ensure that this is carried out.

“In conclusion, it is maintained that Sunday Igboho has not committed any offence against any law, whether national or international. The Republic of Benin must not lend itself to be used to carry out the persecution of an innocent man, a citizen of Nigeria, because of his political views. He must be released immediately.”

SaharaReporters in a series of reports stated that Igboho escaped from a midnight raid on his Ibadan home by operatives of the DSS and later was arrested in Cotonou in the Benin Republic.

His counsel, Chief Yomi Aliyu, SAN, had filed a suit against the DSS on Igboho’s behalf at the High Court in Ibadan.

The court had then ordered the DSS to pay Igboho the sum of N20billion as exemplary damages.

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