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177 days after, Sunday Igboho still incarcerated in Benin jail

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What began as a ‘fight’ against the incessant killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the Yoruba-dominated Southwest region has ended up becoming the greatest undoing of Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.

Sometime in early 2021, the relatively unknown Igboho, fed up by the killings, rape and kidnappings of indigenes of Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa areas of Oyo State, issued a seven-day ultimatum to herdsmen who he accused of being perpetrators of these criminal activities.

Defying the warning of his state governor, Seyi Makinde, the self-styled activist invaded Igangan upon expiration of his ultimatum. What followed his visit was a violent clash between some Yoruba youth and Fulani in the community, leading to the destruction of properties worth millions of Naira.

Banking on his growing popularity, Adeyemo metamorphosed his activities into strong calls for secession for a Yoruba Nation, holding rallies in all Southwestern states with Lagos proposed as the final stop.

Unfortunately, the Lagos rally couldn’t happen thanks to the invasion of the acclaimed agitator’s home by operatives of Nigeria’s secret police, about 72 hours before the proposed date. While his some of his aides landed in detention, Igboho, fearing for his life, managed to escape. Weeks after he was declared wanted, he was eventually arrested in Cotonou, Benin Republic, marking the genesis of his ongoing ordeal.

Though a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja later ordered the release of his detained aides, Adeyemo, 177 days after his arrest, still languishes in an undisclosed prison in Benin Republic as his trial continues.

Recently, his chances of regaining freedom hit the rocks after his lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi withdrew his legal services on account on his “personal convictions.” This came at a time several prominent groups and personalities are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to release Igboho as well as the leader of the proscribed separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu who is facing a similar ordeal.

With his fate hanging in the balance and little chances of a political solution, Igboho’s rise to prominence and eventual fall, to many, remains a major indicator of the seeming failures of the government of the day to addess the nation’s security challenges. As widely posited, a society with irresponsible leaders is a sure breeding ground for another Igboho.

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