As the arrest of popular Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo aka Igboho continues to elicit arguments and controversy, some diplomacy experts and legal practitioners have weighed in on the efforts by Nigeria to extradite Igboho from Benin Republic, where the activist was arrested.
Igboho and his wife, Ropo were arrested on Monday by security operatives at a Cotonou airport while trying to fly to Germany and have since been in the custody of the Beninoise authorities.
Going by ensuing arguments and what has played out in the past days, there are rife indications that Nigeria and Benin are currently locking horns in a major diplomacy battle occasioned by the arrest of Igboho on the later’s soil.
A professor of international law and jurisprudence, Akin Oyebode, while weighing in on the extradition process of Igboho, said the Yoruba agitator should have avoided Benin Republic, while considering transit countries for his escape trip to Europe.
According to Oyebode, extradition is a political matter between two countries, hence Igboho is liable to be extradited to Nigeria once both parties reach an agreement.
The professor also noted that Igboho was not properly advised as regards which country to go when fleeing Nigeria as there is one 1984 extradition treaty between Nigeria and Benin Republic, Ghana and Togo.
According to Oyebode, the activist should have opted to flee through Niger Republic where it would have been easier for him to find his way enroute Europe.
In his words, “Apparently, Igboho was not properly advised. If you are fleeing Nigeria, it is ill advised to go through Benin Republic. He ought to have gone through Niger and find his way to Europe but not through Benin Republic. That is why he is liable to be extradited. Even if there is no extradition treaty, it can also depend on the political relationship. Extradition is, however, a political matter, though people think it is legal.”
Also, a former dean, Faculty of Law, Abia State University (ABSU), Prof. Sampson Erugo (SAN) explained that extradition involves returning a person who has been accused of a serious crime or has been convicted for such crime, from one jurisdiction to another, as part of the criminal process.
According to him, there are several conditions involved in an extradition process which is usually contained in a treaty agreement between two countries. He further added that extradition is a legitimate process once the laws are not breached by parties.
Erugo said: “So, in the first place, there’s recognition of the sovereignty of the jurisdictions, and then agreement on cooperation, usually by treaty. If there is no existing treaty between relevant nations, there will be no basis for extradition process in court.
“Again, there are several conditions for the presentation of an extradition process. For instance, the acts alleged must constitute an offence in the host jurisdiction. Of course, politically motivated requests cannot be processed or granted. Extradition is the only legitimate process of returning a fugitive or one accused of crime from one jurisdiction to another, otherwise the exercise could be an affront to the sovereignty of another nation,” he was quoted by the Guardian as saying.
Similary, an associate professor at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Dr. Joshua Bolarinwa, explained that every country has the right to demand the extradition of a fugitive or an accused individual who has fled a country to another country.
According to him, the only hindrance to the extradition of Igboho to Nigeria is if Benin Republic fail to put its signatory to the request of Nigeria.
He also noted that the extradition process of Igboho may take a long time because Benin Republic is known to be operating a strict law and constitution.
In his words: “A country has the right to extradite from another country somebody who has been alleged of some activities undermining the security of the state or someone who has been declared wanted and also made available to the International Police (INTERPOL).
“Extradition is made possible under the provision that the country where such a person that would be extradited, to the country that has requested or filed the extradition must both be signatories to the international law. That is the case in respect of Kenya and Nigeria over the issue of Nnamdi Kanu and the same thing is applicable to Sunday Igboho, because Benin Republic and Nigeria are both signatories to that law and are liable under that provision to carry out such obligations. Any country that is a signatory to that law can make such a request.
“It can also be based on the cordial or mutual relationship between countries. All of these would take a long due process and I am aware that the Benin Republic, though a small country, follows the law and is usually compliant to constitutionalism.”
Earlier, The New Diplomat reported that the lead counsel to Igboho, Yomi Aliyu (SAN) had argued that his client cannot be extradited to Nigeria based on a 1984 treaty with Benin Republic. He claimed that provisions in the treaty do not allow the extradition of any political offender who is unlikely to get justice in his home country.
“The Extradition Treaty of 1984 between Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and Republic of Benin excluded political fugitives. It also states that where the fugitive will not get justice because of discrimination and/or undue delay in prosecution the host country should not release the fugitive.
“Now, Article 20 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which the four countries are signatories made agitation for self-determination a fundamental right to be protected by all countries. This made Chief Sunday Adeyemo a political offender who cannot be deported and/or extradited by the good people of the Republic of Benin for any reason,” Aliyu had said.