Popular Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, a.k.a. Sunday Igboho, risks a jail term of 21 years if convicted of allegations that he doctored the Beninoise passport tendered at the airport in Cotonou, Benin Republic, a Beninoise lawmaker has said.
The activist, alongside his wife, Ropo, a German citizen were apprehended by Beninoise authorities inside the Cotonou airport, on Monday night.
The duo were subsequently arraigned before the Cour De’appal De Cotonou, Benin Republic on Thursday. However, the court had ordered the release of Ropo, while Igboho had been returned to the custody of the security operatives in the country.
Earlier, The New Diplomat had reported that the legal team of Igboho, in a statement disclosed that the court proceeding of his client was stalled because the federal government of Nigeria was yet to file charges against the activist.
Also, reports has it that Igboho is being tried for allegedly obtaining a Beninoise passport without being a citizen.
According to the reports, the activist allegedly presented a fake travelling document to the Immigration officials in Benin, in a bid to jet out to Germany with his wife. His efforts however proved abortive as he was apprehended by the security operatives.
Recall also that the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) had ordered the Department of State Services (DSS); Nigeria Police Force; and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to place Igboho on a stop-list, in a bid to stop him from fleeing the country.
According to the NIS, Igboho has been trying to acquire a new passport.
Weighing in on the allegation that Igboho doctored his passport in Benin, a Beninoise lawmaker, Mr Tolulase in an interview with BBC Yoruba said that Igboho could risk a 21 years imprisonment if convicted of the allegation.
The lawmaker, in his explanation said that though Benin is a small country, the laws are strictly enforced.
In his words, “On this passport issue, take me for instance, I’m from Benin but married an Ijebu woman. We have five kids. She gave birth to two in Nigeria, three in Benin.
“Only the three have Beninoise passport, the two others and my wife do not have. She can only apply if we marry legally in Benin.
“Even after the court wedding, the passport is not issued immediately. She will wait for some years and must go through the processes.
“The first thing you must have is National Identity Card. Now, if you’re not a citizen, the only way you can get a passport is if you legally marry a Beninoise.
“You can see it’s not easy. So, if you procure a fake one, you’ll be uncovered because you don’t have a National Identity Card. The details are linked.
“The card must have a family name. About three to five of your relatives must confirm to the government they know you and your early years.
“It is after they testify that the court will issue the card, which can then be used to apply for a passport. If such is doctored, the punishment is 21 years imprisonment. It’s a serious offence.
“And it’s not just the owner of the fake passport that will be prosecuted, all those who know about it will be charged to court.
“On Chief Sunday Igboho, the Beninoise government will carry out a detailed investigation that will expose everyone involved in his passport obtainment.”