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Benin: release of Nigerian Yoruba separatist Sunday Igboho

Benin: release of Nigerian Yoruba separatist Sunday Igboho
A Beninese riot police officer in Cotonou, 9 March 2018.   -  
Copyright © africanews
YANICK FOLLY/AFP or licensors


Nigerian Yoruba separatist Sunday Igboho has been released in Benin where he was arrested after fleeing Nigerian police two years ago, and has left this country, one of his lawyers said on Monday.

“He was released and left Benin,” his lawyer, Me Ibrahim Salami, told AFP by SMS on Monday, without giving further details. Beninese authorities did not immediately comment on this matter.

Sunday Igboho, who campaigns for the creation of a Yoruba nation in southwest Nigeria, was arrested at the international airport of Cotonou, in neighbouring Benin, from where he was trying to leave for Germany.

Benin had accused Sunday Igboho of “association with criminals”. Last year, his lawyer said his client was conditionally released to receive medical treatment but was not allowed to leave Benin.

Igboho, whose real name is Sunday Adeyemo, appeared in a video broadcast on social networks in which he notably thanked Beninese President Patrice Talon as well as the Nobel Prize winner for literature, Nigerian Wole Soyinka, for their support. “To our entire political class and to our entire Yoruba country, let us join hands to make Yoruba great,” he said.

Nigerian security forces raided Sunday Igboho's house in October 2021, where they found weapons of war and arrested 12 men and a woman, according to the authorities.

The separatist activist had managed to escape and was actively sought by Abuja, which accuses him of wanting to trigger "a violent insurrection against the state". Police said the findings were "confirmation of a grand plan by Igboho and his cronies to carry out a violent insurrection against the Nigerian state. "

Separatism is a very sensitive subject in Nigeria, a country of 210 million inhabitants where tensions sometimes flare between different ethnic groups. The largest ethnic groups are the Hausa in the north, the Igbo in the southeast, and the Yoruba in the southwest of Nigeria.

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