By John Ikani
The authorities in Benin on Monday released Nigerian separatist leader, Sunday “Igboho” Adeyemo, after spending close to eight months in a Benin Republic prison.
But despite his release yesterday, Igboho won’t be allowed to leave the country, as the Beninoise Government restricts his movement to the francophone country.
Mr Igboho was arrested at a Benin airport in July 2021 alongside his wife on Nigeria’s request, although his wife was released days later. The couple were said to be headed for Germany where his wife is a citizen.
He was accused of entering Benin illegally and planning to cause trouble but he denied the charges. The Nigerian authorities never made a formal extradition request.
In a statement on Monday, his spokesman said Mr Igboho was released to the leader of the umbrella body of Yoruba Self-determination Groups, Banji Akintoye.
According to a statement signed by Maxwell Adeleye, the secretary of Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Igboho was released to Prof Banji Akintoye and Prof Wale Adeniran.
In the statement, Akintoye described Ighoho’s release as a “triumph of truth over darkness in Yoruba land.”
However, Igboho’s lead counsel Olusegun Falola while confirming his release said the political agitator would remain in Benin Republic despite his release.
Falola said, “Sunday Adeyemo will remain in Benin Republic for now. He will remain in Benin Republic till the political atmosphere is calm because he is a political prisoner.
“Though Igboho has been released from custody, he will not be permitted to leave Benin Republic for now. He will be moving around with security agents till the time is ripe for him to leave.”
Nigeria accuses Mr Igboho of stockpiling weapons, calling for the break-up of the country and inciting ethnic killings.
Mr Igboho is hailed as a hero by his supporters after calling for a Yoruba nation in the country’s south-west.
He fled the country after a raid on his home by Nigeria’s secret police in July 2021 where two of his associates were killed.