Abuja: Nigerian media reports Yoruba separatist leader Sunday Adeyemo, better known as Sunday Igboho, has been arrested in neighboring Benin as he was about to board a flight to Germany. He is the second Nigerian separatist leader to be arrested outside the country this month.
The arrests came three weeks after Nigerian security operatives declared wanted to break into Igboho’s home on Sunday, pick up relatives and associates and stockpile weapons.
Igboho, campaigning for an independent Yoruba state in southwest Nigeria, went into hiding after a raid. He went to Benin, where security personnel arrested him at Porto-Novo airport at 2 a.m. on Monday.
He is expected to be extradited to Nigeria on Tuesday, according to local media sources.
Igboho rose to prominence in January, when he issued a seven-day ultimatum to shepherds and pastoralists in southwest Oyo State to evacuate the state.
Speaking to Sahara Reporters, an online news outlet based in the US, Igboho’s legal counsel Pelumi Olajengbesi confirmed his arrest and said, “We are making efforts to make sure he is fine.”
His arrest highlights the actions of the authorities on the growing separatist movements in the West African nation.
Late last month, authorities arrested Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the indigenous people of the Biafra, or IPOB, and deported him to Nigeria. Now he is facing trial for other offenses including sedition.
Separatist movements have gained momentum in recent years, which observers attribute to the Nigerian government’s inability to deal with widespread insecurity.
Meanwhile, critics of the government are accusing the authorities of being heavy-handed in cracking down on separatist movements but slow in addressing criminal activities such as mass kidnappings for ransom.