Like IPOB, FG may outlaw Yoruba Nation group –AGF office
The Federal Government is considering all options against Yoruba Nation separatist group including the proscription of the movement led by Prof Banji Akintoye and Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
According to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Federal Government would explore all options within the context of the law to ensure a peaceful and united Nigeria.
Malami’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Gwandu, stated this in an interview with Sunday PUNCH on Saturday.
The AGF’s aide also said it was not true that the government of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had not been prosecuting terrorists and bandits.
Gwandu, however, did not give details of what the government has been doing on the planned extradition of Igboho, who has been in a detention facility in Cotonou, Benin Republic since he was arrested around 8pm on July 19, 2021, by the Interpol at the Cadjèhoun Airport.
Sunday PUNCH had exclusively reported last week that the Federal Government was plotting the arrest of Akintoye, Igboho’s partner in the struggle for the secession of Yoruba from Nigeria.
The octogenarian professor of History, who has since left Nigeria for neighbouring Benin Republic, ostensibly, to escape plot for his arrest, had said he was not afraid of any arrest.
The 86-year-old scholar had said he was in Benin Republic to ensure the release of Igboho and would return to Nigeria as soon as the embattled 48-year-old agitator was freed.
Akintoye, the leader of the umbrella body of the Yoruba self-determination group known as Ilana Omo Oodua; and Igboho, have been seen together at press conferences and rallies championing the cause to secede from Nigeria and establish a Yoruba Nation.
The Department of State Services had raided Igboho’s residence around 1 am on July 1, 2021. The secret police had said it killed two of his associates and arrested about 12 others during the bloody raid.
Igboho, who narrowly escaped the bloody raid, was subsequently declared wanted for allegedly stockpiling arms to destabilise Nigeria under the pretext of Yoruba Nation.
The DSS had also alleged that it recovered seven AK-47 rifles, three pump-action rifles, one stun gun, 221 live rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, 1,295 live rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, one jackknife and a walkie-talkie during the raid of Igboho’s house on July 1, 2021. Igboho had denied the allegations.
After going underground for 19 days, Igboho found his way to Benin Republic but luck ran out on him and he was arrested around 8 pm on July 19, 2021, by the Interpol at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, when he tried to board a flight to Germany.
Igboho was arrested after the Federal Government notified its West African neighbours — including Republic of Benin- that he should be captured.
He was arrested with his wife, Ropo, but the Cour De’appal De Cotonou ordered the release of the wife based in Germany saying there were no allegations against her.
The Cour De’appal De Cotonou, however, ordered that Igboho be in prison custody in the country while further investigations would be carried out on the case against him.
Igboho, who is now seeking asylum in Benin Republic, is facing allegations bordering on trafficking in arms, inciting violence and causing disunity in Nigeria.
Some of the other offences said to have been committed by the activist bordered on entering the Benin Republic illegally and alleged planned intent to cause social unrest in the West African country.
Though currently in detention, the court granted the 48-year-old agitator access to medical care while his lawyers continue to battle for his release and kick against his extradition to Nigeria.
Asked whether the AGF Office had abandoned the extradition of Igboho or otherwise, Malami’s aide said he could not make the “processes” known to the public.
Gwandu said, “There are certain things that may not require publicity but the important thing is having a peaceful Nigeria and not discussing all or making public some of the processes so far.”
The AGF Office is responsible for matters regarding extradition, repatriation and transfer of suspects or wanted persons.
Malami had on June 29, 2021, announced the “arrest” and “extradition” of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, from a foreign country. The AGF Office has since re-arraigned the IPOB leader before Justice Binta Nyako for terrorism-related charges. The trial of Kanu, remanded in DSS custody in Abuja, has since been adjourned till October 21, 2021.
In September 2017, Malami and the then Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Dayo Apata, had approached the Federal High Court in Abuja to give judicial backing to the Executive Order of President Buhari, outlawing IPOB and its activities in every part of Nigeria.
The then Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, had granted the order proscribing the group.
Speaking with our correspondent on Saturday, the AGF Office said options were on the table to deal with Yoruba Nation groups to ensure a united and peaceful Nigeria.
“The Federal Government is interested in having a peaceful Nigeria, so, all options cannot be ruled out, all options in order to have a peaceful and serene atmosphere in the country can be explored by the Federal Government,” he said.
Asked specifically whether the Federal Government intended to proscribe Akintoye and Igboho-led Yoruba Nation group, the AGF Office said, “Whatever thing that is doable and possible within the context of the law in accordance with extant provisions of the law will be pursued. All options are available at the Federal Government’s end.”