Widely believed to possess metaphysical powers by his ardent followers, Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho, cheerily opened the door to welcome The PUNCH correspondent to his private residence in Cotonou, the capital of Benin Republic on Friday, June 24, 2022.
It was 9pm West African time and 49-year-old Igboho wore black pyjamas with a singlet which rested comfortably on his square-shaped shoulders. He beamed with his signature smiles as he welcomed his guests including our correspondent; and his comrades in the self-determination struggle– Prof Banji Akintoye, Prof Wale Adeniran, and Mr Maxwell Adeleye, all members of the Ilana Omo Oodua group.
He genuflected as he greeted Akintoye; the 87-year-old leader of the Yoruba self-determination struggle and his deputy, Adeniran. Then, one after the other, he also recognised others within and below his age range. Igboho’s ebullience filled the expansive and well-lit room. His joy was akin to that of a hermit welcoming visitors.
“Oosa!” somebody hailed but the Yoruba Nation agitator maintained his animated smile. His clear cheeks bore his fading facial marks.
“Please sit,” Igboho said in Yoruba language. It was his first time to speak since his guests arrived and excused himself to one of the rooms. During his momentary absence, our correspondent’s eyeballs roved the white-painted room, hoping to pick the sight of a charm hung or tucked somewhere. But the weary sights landed on the trappings and furniture in the room– lemon and aluminium-coloured leather sofas, a large centre table sitting on a rug on the tiled floor, a television showing a movie, and white curtains draped over the walls. Nothing was unusual. It’s a typical average home.
While he was away, many questions rioted in our correspondent’s head and mind simultaneously; to ask him his views on multifarious issues ranging from political, sociological to metaphysical, especially how he escaped the midnight raid by operatives of the Department of State Services on July 1, 2021 at his Soka, Ibadan residence in Oyo State and how he was arrested by the Interpol at Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, Benin Republic around 8pm on July 19, 2021. Did he really turn into a cat as widely speculated? These questions including his experience in prison custody in Cotonou for eight months, life as a free man, among others engaged my mind.
Igboho later emerged from one of the rooms about five minutes later, dressed in a brown top with vertical lines. He sat in one of the three-seaters beside Akintoye, and watched the television for some minutes before he started a conversation.
From 09:05pm to 11:45pm, Igboho hosted his guests and regaled them with stories of his engaging encounters with politicians, security agencies and louts.
“I am going back to Nigeria soon,” he said around 10pm after a long silence.
“How soon? Are you worried that you might be arrested by the DSS which earlier declared you wanted?” I asked but the Yoruba Nation campaigner dismissed it, referring to a September 2021 judgment by Justice Ladiran Akintola of an Oyo State High Court which declared the action of the DSS illegal, “arbitrary aggression and prejudices” and awarded N20bn damages against it.
“I believe in the judiciary,” he said.
Igboho mourned his personal loss including the brand-new vehicles in his Ibadan house vandalised by bullets fired by security operatives who attacked his residence. According to him, a Mercedes Benz worth N55m, three Hilux worth N17m each, G-Wagon of N48m, among others were destroyed by the security agents who stormed his residence and killed two aides on July 1, 2021.
Reminiscing on the bloody midnight raid on his house, Igboho said the secret police and other security operatives that stormed his residence had the intention to kill him but “God doesn’t leave his own.”
Igboho added, “My wife (Ropo) was detained at the (Cadjèhoun) Airport for about two hours. They were ready to hold onto her if I didn’t show up. Then I showed up and the security agents handcuffed my hands and legs. If I knew that could happen, I wouldn’t allow her to follow me to the airport. She had already obtained my travelling document from the German government and I would have asked her to go separately but God knew how everything went that way.”
Asked how he made it out alive during the DSS raid, Igboho instantaneously declined further comments. “It is not yet time to speak,” he said with an askance looks. He won’t respond to any of our correspondent’s questions afterwards as he became measured in his speech. “I will speak when it is time to speak,” he insisted despite entreaties.
Ropo was released days after her arrest and has since returned to Germany, Sunday PUNCH gathered.
Also, Prof Adeniran in an exclusive interview with Sunday PUNCH in Porto Novo corroborated Igboho’s narration.
The retired university don said he and Akintoye left their base in Ile-Ife, Osun State, in May 2021 after an intelligence that they were about to be murdered.
Adeniran said, “We would have been killed because we would not have been able to survive the way Igboho survived. Mind you, two people were killed in his house but he survived. It is interesting because an important personality of Yoruba origin was here some weeks ago and he asked him pointedly, ‘Sunday, tell me, I want to know the details of how you were attacked, what time and how did you get out?’
“He (Igboho) narrated how the house was put under siege and as a matter of fact, they had surrounded his house and started operations at about 1am and when he looked out and he saw the team, he knew it couldn’t be wise to confront them because they were ready to burn down the house, if he offered resistance. So, he did the wisest thing and walked out calmly. He didn’t turn into a cat though he had cats in the house. We all have pet hobbies. Like myself, I keep Alsatian dogs.”
Asked how Igboho wasn’t able to escape at the airport, Adeniran said, “He did (escape) but for one reason or the other he had to return and surrender himself to the Republic of Benin security authorities.”
At exactly 11:45pm, our correspondent left Igboho’s residence in the company with Akintoye, Adeniran, Adeleye and others.
“I will invite you again when it is time to speak,” he said to our correspondent as he walked him to the door from where subterranean darkness accompanied him to his hotel room some 10 minutes away.
Source: The PUNCH