Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has said Benin Republic authorities told Nigeria’s ambassador to the country, Lt. Gen. Turkur Buratai (rtd) that rule of law will guide the extradition of Yoruba nationa agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
Igboho, who is currently being detained in Benin Republic, was arrested on July 19, in Cotonou by the country’s security forces while trying to flee to Germany.
The charges against the Yoruba nation activist include arms smuggling, inciting violence and calling for a secession of the Yoruba people from Nigeria.
While Speaking on the development on a Channels Television programme on Thursday, Falana said Buratai, the former Chief of Army Staff, asked that Igboho should be handed over to him.
The human rights lawyer argued that the Federal Government must always follow the appropriate legal process in dealing with secessionists, noting that he learnt that there were attempts to throw Igboho in a waiting plane for a return to Nigeria.
“In the case of Sunday Igboho, again despite my disagreement with him, I came out to say you cannot just throw him into a waiting plane as we were told it was attempted.
“You have to go to court. You have to make a request under international law, under the ECOWAS convention on extradition.
“The government of Nigeria is requested to submit an extradition request to the government of Benin Republic and so when the plenipotentiary, General Yusuf Buratai (retired), who at that time had not submitted his letters of credence asked that Igboho be handed over to him, “he was told, ‘sorry, we operate the rule of law here.’ That is why that matter is still in court,” Falana said.
On secessionist agitations, Falana noted that he is opposed to the campaign of the balkanisation of Nigeria. He, however, added that the law guarantees the rights of self-determination.
He asked the Federal Government to respect human rights and always follow the legal approach in dealing with those calling for secession so that the country will be respected among civilised nations.
“Unless we respect the rights of our people and the human rights of people in our country, we are going to be embarrassed continuously.
“And that is what has just happened in the United States, where a senator has moved a motion that certain aircraft should not be sold to Nigeria because of gross human rights violation.
“I have a fundamental disagreement, a fundamental ideologically disagreement with those calling for the break-up of the country along ethnic lines but the law has imposed a duty on the government.
“And the rest of us, respect the rights of such people and in fact article 20 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights guarantees the rights to self-determination,” he added.