Sunday Igboho to face two-stage trial in Benin Republic –Lawyer

Ibrahim Salami, one of the Cotonou, Benin Republic-based lawyers of Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, says the Yoruba Nation activist might be released by the Cour D’Appal De Cotonou on Monday saying he has two more stages to undergo before he will be freed.

The law professor, said this in an interview with BBC Yoruba, as he lamented that the police in Benin Republic handcuffed the hands of his client five days after his arrest.

Salami said, “In Benin here, there are three stages (judicial protocol) of trial. The first is with the prosecutor, the second one is with the investigating judge and the third will determine whether he is guilty and should be sentenced or not.

“The next phase is on Monday. The first phase with the prosecutor has been concluded. When we get to court on Monday, we will be facing the investigation judge, and after that, we will face the judge that will determine whether he should be sentenced or not.”

When asked if the process would end on Monday, he added, “Yes, it will end on Monday. Before the end of Monday, we will know if the Benin Republic government wants to jail or release him. That will be clear on Monday.”

He said, “When we went to court on Thursday, we had a large turnout of Igbho’s supporters. I frowned on their action. They should stay at home and let us do our job. Igboho is accused of causing disorderliness and civil unrest. If they are now mobilising to court, it may send a wrong signal. They should support him with prayers from home.

“There is no accord between Nigeria and Benin that allows Benin to extradite Igboho to Nigeria. He can only be extradited on political grounds. In that regard, the law won’t apply.”

He added, “We are five lawyers defending him. When we saw him in the police station, he was not chained in the leg or beaten. What they did to him that is wrong was that they handcuff him inside the cell such that he finds it difficult to eat or ease himself. Another person has to help him if he needs to use the toilet or eat.

“Human right does not permit us to do this. We called the attention of the police boss and prosecutor to it. As we speak, he is still handcuffed.”

The counsel insisted that only a Nigerian passport was found on the Yoruba rights activist, adding that he was not being tried for possessing a fake passport contrary to earlier reports that Igboho is being tried for possessing a Beninese passport despite not being a citizen of the country.

The lawyer said, “When he left Nigeria, he took the backdoor into Benin. It was at the airport that security operatives stopped him that he was on the watchlist. He didn’t go against any law in Benin Republic. They didn’t find any Beninese passport on him. He had a Nigerian passport with a German residency card. He needed no visa at that point.

“When we understudied the case, we realised that the Nigerian government had not filed a case for extradition. They only claimed that he is wanted in Nigeria for criminal offences. Our argument is that he was arrested because of Nigeria’s request, and there is no proof to show that he is a criminal.”

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