Nation campaigner, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, may have been trapped in a prison in neighbouring Benin Republic, having spent exactly five months in detention since his arrest around 8pm on July 19, 2021, at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou.
Also, the Cour De’appal De Cotonou since the arraignment of Igboho on July 27, 2021, has not sat, fuelling speculations that the detention of Igboho is laced with political undertones.
His continued incarceration has also doused Yoruba Nation agitations in the last five months as his followers and associates have laid low, suspending secessionist rallies as was done in the South-West before the near-perpetual ordeal of the agitator.
Igboho’s mentor in the struggle, who is also an arrowhead for self-determination, Banji Akintoye, had since left Nigeria for Benin Republic after he got wind that the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), plotted his arrest.
The 86-year-old professor of history has not returned to Nigeria.
The Buhari regime in 2021 turned maddening heat on separatist agitators and descended on their arrowheads including Igboho who agitated for the South-West to pull out of the Nigerian State over perceived injustice and insecurity.
On July 1, 2021, around 2am, the Department of State Services stormed the Ibadan residence of Igboho in a Gestapo style, killing two of his associates and arresting 12 others.
The luxury cars and the house of the agitator in the Soka area of Oyo State were also riddled with bullets.
The DSS subsequently declared Igboho wanted for allegedly stockpiling arms to destabilise Nigeria under the pretext of secessionist agitation, an allegation he had since denied.
After about three weeks underground, Igboho, 49, found his way to Cotonou and planned to escape to Germany through an Air France Cotonou-Paris-Hamburg flight but the trip was botched as the Interpol at the airport arrested him and his German-citizen wife, Ropo.
The Interpol at the airport had arrested the duo at the behest of the Nigerian Government.
The Beninese Government subsequently arraigned the agitator before the Cour De’appal De Cotonou on migration-related offences and for gunrunning but the court on July 27, 2021, ordered that Ropo be released while Igboho be remanded in prison.
Ropo, it was gathered, now shuttles between Germany where her children are based and Cotonou where her husband is being detained.
The court has not opened the case since then and all efforts by Igboho’s lawyers both in Nigeria and Benin Republic have not yielded in his release as the Buhari regime’s representatives in the Francophone West African country led by Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.), continued to push for the extradition of the agitator.
Speaking with the spokesperson for Akintoye, Maxwell Adeleye, said the Yoruba self-determination group, Ilana Omo Oodua, led by the renowned scholar was optimistic that Igboho would be released.
“Benin Republic Government will soon toe the path of reasoning. We are hopeful that logic will prevail and Igboho will be released to go anywhere he wants to go because he has not committed any offence against the people of Nigeria and the Benin Republic,” he said.
2023: Multiple Igbo aspirants won’t ruin South-East’s chances, says Orji Kalu
Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu, has said multiple presidential aspirants from the South-East will not diminish the region’s chances of producing the next President come 2023.
Kalu, a former governor of Abia State, has not hidden his desire to contest in the 2023 presidential election. While he’s yet to declare his ambition, the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, and former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, both from the South-East, have declared their ambition to run for the presidency.
This led to insinuations that the South-East is not united at forging a common front, which might ruin the region’s chances of producing the next President.
However, Kalu who spoke during an interview with on Friday rebuffed the assertions. According to him, since 1999, no region had ever presented a single candidate before winning elections.
The Senator recalled how former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bola Ige and Olu Falae, all from the South-West geopolitical zone of the country, contested the 1999 presidential election.
He said the belief that Igbo must come together to present a single candidate in order to produce the next President of Nigeria were mere blackmails promoted by the media.
He said, “No region forges a common front and I have just given you an example. When Obasanjo ran for elections in 1999, Olu Falae, Bola Ige and three other Yoruba(men) were also contesting for the same presidency. Did that stop the emergence of a President from the South-West? So what are you talking about? It is the beauty of constitutional democracy, the more the merrier, people must contest and the people must choose who can do the job.
“That Orji Kalu came to contest and another Igboman comes out does not mean you won’t vote Orji Kalu. The beauty of democracy is in the ability to make a choice. That is why I initially told my friends (Tinubu, Umahi and Anyim) in the sitting room where we were eating that I won’t run but the beauty of it is that people later persuaded me to come and run because they know that I’m capable of doing the job.
“They know that I have the experience of the job. They know that I have local and international connections. They know I have an excellent understanding of the country. And when you look at me you see the face of Nigeria.”
National merit award: FG announces three recipients in Medicine, Science
Three Nigerians were on Friday announced by the Federal Government as winners of the Nigeria National Order of Merit Award for years 2020 and 2021.
While Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye was named winner in medicine (2020), Prof. Charles Chidume clinched the award in Science (2020), just as Prof. Godwin Ekhaguere emerged winner in Science (2021.
Olutoye, a renowned surgeon and scientist was selected for the award for having performed in-utero surgery on foetus with large tumours while still in their mother’s womb, making him the first African and indeed the first Nigerian to perform this feat.
Chidume, a Professor of Mathematics at African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, was selected for the award for introducing a new and powerful interactive algorithm, which is the only one in the literature that does not involve the resolvent, for approximating a zero of the maximal monotone map.
Ekhaguere, a Mathematician was selected for creating new directions in Mathematics and deploying the outcomes to solve outstanding problems in a branch of Mathematical Physics called Axiomatic Quantum Field Theory.
While announcing the winners at a press conference in Abuja, the Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award, Shekarau Yakubu, said the three winners were found worthy of the award for distinguishing themselves in the various areas of their chosen careers.
According to him, they were selected out of 46 nominations by specialized committees, including external assessors, and considered by a committee of chairmen and the Governing Board of NNMA before the approval of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The award was established by Act No. 53 of the 1979 constitution and was amended by Act No. 96 of 1992 now LFN 122 of 2004, organised by the Governing Board of the NNMA.
It was named Nigerian National Order of Merit and is a separate Order of Dignity in the Highest Honours Category in the fields of Science, Medicine, Engineering/Technology, and Humanities including Arts and Culture.
Each awardee takes home N10 million, a medal and NNOM certificate.
Each year, the NNMA advertises for nominations of candidates for the NNOM Award in the four categories of Engineering/Technology, medicine, Humanities including Arts and Culture and Sciences.
The investiture of the three awardees would be statutorily performed by the President on a date to be announced by the Presidency at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
NOminations open for 2022
Meanwhile, NNMA said nominations for 2022 has begun and would end by March 31, 2022.
The award could not hold in the past two years due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the NNMA was able to hold the assessment of 2020/2021 concurrently and got the Presidential approval on Thursday of the successful recipients of the NNOM Award.
The award has consistently produced the NNOM Laureates including the last year’s recipients with universal acclaim.
The award recipients were usually selected by a committee of assessors and external assessors.