EXPLAINER: Lawyer claims Igboho can’t be extradited from Cotonou — but what does the law say?
Top of the news in Nigeria on Tuesday was the arrest of Sunday Adeyemo, Yoruba nation agitator better known as Sunday Igboho.
According to the Punch, Igboho was arrested in Cotonou by Benin Republic’s security forces while he was trying to flee to Germany.
Igboho has been in the spotlight since he issued an eviction notice to Fulani herders in Ibarapa area of Oyo state, blaming them for a spate of kidnapping and other violent activities.
In a viral video that surfaced in March, Igboho declared that the Yoruba are no longer part of Nigeria.
The Department of State Services (DSS) raided the residence of Igboho in Ibadan, Oyo state on July 1.
Igboho had planned a ”Yoruba nation rally” in Lagos two days before the raid.
The DSS raided the residence, killing two people and arresting 12 aides. But Igboho escaped.
The agitator has been on the run since the raid.
HIS LAWYER SAYS HE CANNOT BE EXTRADITED –WHY?
However, Yomi Alliyu, Igboho’s lawyer who confirmed his arrest, said his client cannot be extradited to Nigeria because of the extradition treaty of 1984 between Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and the Republic of Benin.
“The Extradition Treaty of 1984 between Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and Republic of Benin excluded political fugitives. It also states that where the fugitive will not get justice because of discrimination and/or undue delay in prosecution the host country should not release the fugitive,” he said.
“Now, Article 20 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which the four countries are signatories made agitation for self-determination a fundamental right to be protected by all countries. This made Chief Sunday Adeyemo a POLITICAL OFFENDER who cannot be deported and/or extradited by the good people of the Republic of Benin for any reason.”
WHO IS A POLITICAL OFFENDER?
The extradition treaty between the Peoples’ Republic of Benin, the Republic of Ghana, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Togo was done in Lagos on December 10, 1984.
Not all crimes are extraditable offences.
Alliyu had cited Article 4 of the treaty which states that a person cannot be extradited if his offences are political in nature.
“Political offences extradition shall not be granted for crimes or offences of a political nature or if it is proved that the requisition for his surrender has been made with a view to trying or punishing him for a crime or offence of a political nature or it the request is to persecute or punish him on account of his race, religion or political opinion.”
Although, there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a “political offence,” but according to the US department of justice, “the political criminal is defined as an individual who, motivated by his conviction, commits an unlawful act designed to attack the social structure to bring about a reorganization of the system”.
But is the request for extradition based on political offences?
IS THERE A POSSIBILITY OF EXTRADITION?
According to Article 2 of the treaty, “Extradition shall be granted in respect of persons accused of crimes or offences punishable by the laws of the Contracting Parties by at least two (2) years imprisonment.
“Extradition shall also be granted for participation in any of the aforementioned crimes or offences provided that such participation be punishable by the laws of the contracting parties.
“Extradition shall also be granted in respect of persons who have been convicted by the requesting state for extradition offences whether they have served part of their sentences or not.”
Based on Article 2 (1) of the treaty, it becomes necessary to establish Igboho’s offence.
WHAT IS IGBOHO’S OFFENCE?
Despite the manhunt for the Yoruba nation agitator, the federal government has not explicitly stated Igboho’s offences.
However, Peter Afunanya, DSS spokesman, said the security agency recovered illegal arms — including seven AK-47 rifles — and thousands of ammunition from Igboho’s house during the raid.
According to the Robbery and Firearms (special provisions) Act, Section 3 (1) stipulates the punishment for the illegal procession of firearms.
“Any person having a firearm in his possession or under his control in contravention of the Firearms Act or any order made thereunder shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall upon conviction under this Act be sentenced to a fine of twenty thousand naira or to imprisonment for a period of not less than ten years, or to both.”