Nigeria separatist held in Benin ‘not facing extradition’
Nigeria has not issued an extradition warrant for a separatist activist who has been in jail in neighbouring Benin since July, lawyers said Saturday.
Sunday Igboho, who pushes for independence for the southwestern Yoruba people, was arrested in Benin while trying to fly to Germany.
“What we feared at the start was an extradition request but there is no such demand,” said Ibrahim David Salami, a lawyer for Igboho.
Benin charged the activist with “associating with criminals”.
“The fact that he is being investigated for a violation that could have been committed on Beninese territory is a hurdle to an extradition request as this case will first have to be sorted out,” Salami said.
“He is safer in Benin. He is not at all safe in Nigeria. Sending him to Nigeria means certain death.”
Nigerian security officials fought an hour-long gun battle during a raid on Igboho’s home in early July, later saying he had escaped.
They said they found weapons and arrested 12 men and one woman.
Police said at the time the finds were “confirmation of a grand plan by Igboho and his cohorts to wage a violent insurrection against the Nigerian State”.
Salami said Igboho had been wounded and was flying abroad for treatment when he was arrested.
Nigeria, a country of 210 million people, is frequently shaken along ethnic fault lines.
The largest among its more than 200 ethnic groups are the Hausa-Fulani in the north, the Igbo in the southeast and the Yoruba in the southwest.