Another Nigerian secessionist leader has been arrested in Cotonou, Benin, along with his wife.
Reports say that 48-year-old Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Igboho, leader of Oduduwa Republic Agitators, was arrested at the Cotonou airport on Monday night as he attempted to flee to Germany, where he has family.
Mr Adeyemo’s lawyer, Yomi Alliyu, said on Tuesday in a statement that Nigeria captured his client and his wife Ropo, a German citizen, with the help of Interpol and Benin authorities.
He described the arrest as shocking and urged Germany, Benin and the international community “to rise up and curb the impunity of Nigeria” by rejecting extradition requests.
Mr Adeyemo is expected to be repatriated to Nigeria. The Nigerian secret police, Department of State Services (DSS), were pursuing him for allegedly stockpiling arms, an allegation he has denied.
DSS had on July 1 raided Mr Adeyemo’s home in Ibadan in Oyo state where 12 of his aides were arrested after a gun battle in which two of his guards died.
DSS had also placed the Nigerian immigration service on alert that Mr Adeyemo was trying to get a new passport so he could escape to Germany.
Rise to fame
Mr Adeyemo is a Yoruba politician, business magnate and an activist who rose to fame by playing an active role during the communal crisis involving the ancient city of Ife and neighbouring Modakeke in 1997.
He believed that he had metaphysical powers that made him a formidable foe in battle against the Ife people.
He gained social media notoriety in January when he gave an ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen in Ibarapa, Oyo state, to leave the land after herders were accused of the gruesome murder of Dr Fatai Aborode.
He led supporters in an attack on settlements belonging to Fulani herdsmen and accused the Nigerian government of supporting killer herders.
Meanwhile, a Lagos state magistrate’s court has granted bail to 48 people arrested on July 3 during a rally of supporters of Yoruba secessionists.
The Ilana Omo Oodua, the umbrella body of Yoruba self-determination groups, said in a statement on July 19 that the agitators had been directed to provide two sureties each.
“One of the sureties must be a family member and the other a community leader or clergy with proof of tax payment,” said the statement from group’s communication officer Maxwell Adeleye.
Nigeria is cracking down on secessionist movements, with its boldest move being the arrest in June of 53-year-old Nigerian-British national Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of a violent secessionist group operating in the country’s southeast.
The circumstances of his arrest are still unclear. Mr Kanu's family and lawyer had accused Kenya of involvement in his arrest, but the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has since cleared both Kenya and Nigeria of wrongdoing in his capture and repatriation.
He was arraigned on June 29 and will be tried for treason. He had jumped bail for the same offence and fled the country in November 2017.
He is accused of orchestrating the deaths of more than 129 security personnel in the southeast, as well as the destruction of federal government infrastructure.
His trial will continue on July 27.