The Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) has cautioned the Federal Government to desist from any attempt to clamp down on self-determination agitators.
Publicity Secretary of the group, Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin, gave the admonition in a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday.
Oguntimehin stated that the use and application of force on self-determination agitators had only demonstrated the government’s lack of respect for human rights and intolerance to the views of others.
He also condemned the arrest of Sunday Igboho by the International Criminal Police Organisation at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
Oguntimehin described the treatment meted out to him in Nigeria and also in Cotonou as very unpleasant, even as it insisted that the Federal Government ought to know that the citizens had rights and that such rights must be protected under the law.
Oguntimehin, while urging the Benin Republic government to be fair to the Yoruba activist, considering the nature of his offence and the constitutionality of his rights to seek asylum in a foreign land, said Igboho would be facing immigration-related offences in Cotonou, and could also seek asylum to ensure his safety.
“Unfolding events have shown that there are lapses in the way the Federal Government handles cases of self-determination agitators like Sunday Igboho, and I will like to state it clearly that the Federal Government must desist from clamping down on self-determination agitators because such move can only fuel national crisis.
“Federal Government has been silent on the extradition order because it might trigger more crisis. You cannot treat Igboho the Nnamdi Kanu way, it would not work. So I am appealing to the Federal Government to learn from history and ensure that the fundamental human rights of the citizens are protected in such a way that we can begin to appreciate the fact that we truly follow the tenets of democracy,” he said.
Speaking further, Oguntimehin argued that Nigeria and Benin had no extradition agreement, a situation he said had so made it difficult for her to come up with charges that could lead the court to order Igboho’s extradition to Nigeria,.
He declared that what the Federal Government came up with so far were mere allegations against him such as trafficking in arms and inciting violence that could result in the social disturbance without evidence.
“Meanwhile, contrary to insinuations, Nigeria and Benin have no extradition agreement, and Nigeria has not been able to come up with charges that could lead the court to order Igboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
“What Federal Government came up with were mere allegations against Ighoho such as trafficking in arms and inciting violence that could result in the social disturbance without evidence and the government of Benin Republic had considered all that to be untenable, and insufficient to warrant extradition.
“The case has been adjourned till today, Monday 26th July to allow the Federal Government to bring up whatever evidence they may have, and Mr lgboho has been taken back to the police custody,” he added.
The OPC chieftain, therefore, urged all Yoruba groups, the traditional rulers and other well-meaning Nigerians not to leave Igboho in the lurch at this trying moment.
He added that the embattled Yoruba nation agitator had been peaceful in his self-determination approach and deserved to enjoy his liberty wherever he is in the world.