As the trial of Sunday Igboho gets underway Monday at the Cour De’appeal De Cotonou, Benin Republic, an associate of the Yoruba nation agitator has urged his supporters to shelve their plans of travelling to the country for the proceedings to avoid overcrowding the court.
Banji Akintoye, the leader of the Yoruba Self-determination Movement Worldwide, said the judiciary in the Benin Republic are not used to having crowded court premises, hence they may misinterpret the presence of too many people in the court premises as an attempt to harass, intimidate and overwhelm them.
He added that the move could have a negative effect on Mr Igboho’s case.
Mr Akintoye’s statement came just as the Olubadan of Ibadan, Saliu Adetunji, announced he had sent a delegation to Cotonou to observe Mr Igboho’s court proceedings.
“Information has reached us that many Yoruba Nation Self-determination activists are planning to go and witness, and even protest at the court proceedings involving Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho in Benin Republic court,” Mr Akintoye, an emeritus professor of History, said in a statement by his legal adviser, Olasupo Ojo.
“We commend and appreciate the immense support already received from all Yorubas, Yoruba groups and friends of Yorubas worldwide. We have assembled the best lawyers within Republic of Benin and an International law expert from Paris, France for the legal defence of Chief Sunday Igboho and they are all working well under our supervision. We are satisfied with their work up till now.
“The Nigerian government has falsely painted a bad picture that Chief Sunday Adeyemo is a gun-runner and a terrorist with large followership. The presence of crowds may be capitalised upon by the Nigerian government lawyers as corroborative of their allegations.”
Mr Akintoye also said the presence of a huge crowd may pose some security concerns to security agencies and operatives in Benin Republic and may compel them to adopt some stringent measures to prevent a crowded court and attendant danger.
“Our lawyers are not comfortable with the prospect of too much crowd spoiling their good work and have urged that we appeal to our people to refrain from crowding the court.
“We, therefore, urge all lovers of the Yoruba Nation and Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho in Nigeria to please refrain from going to Cotonou for the Court proceedings.
“Such trip may be rendered useless by the inadequate size of the Court Room. We shall be adequately represented by the Yoruba Community in Benin Republic. They have been very wonderful hence we should allow them to represent us very well.
“We promise that detailed report of proceedings in court shall be made public after the court sittings. We crave the understanding of everyone in this sensitive matter.”
Mr Igboho was arrested last week in Cotonou while he was trying to travel to Germany.