ABUJA – A Nigerian activist accused by the authorities of plotting a violent insurrection has been detained in neighbouring Benin and is due to be sent back to Nigeria, according to reports in Nigerian media on Tuesday.
Sunday Adeyemo, more commonly known in Nigeria by his nickname of Sunday Igboho, was arrested on Monday at Cotonou airport while on his way to Germany, according to media reports citing a lawyer and other Nigerian sources with links to Igboho.
A spokesman for Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS), a security agency that raided Igboho’s residence in the southwestern city of Ibadan on July 1 and said it had found a stockpile of weapons there, could not be reached for comment.
Media in Benin were also reporting Igboho’s arrest, but there was no confirmation from the authorities there.
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If confirmed, the arrest would be a further sign of intensifying efforts by the Nigerian government to go after people seen as a threat to national security, even beyond Nigerian borders.
Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of a group campaigning for a southeastern region to secede, was arrested in an undisclosed location outside of Nigeria and returned to Abuja in June to face trial.
Igboho, who belongs to the Yoruba ethnic group that is one of Nigeria’s three largest, has risen to prominence in recent months with calls for herdsmen from the Fulani ethnic group to be driven out of Yoruba lands in the southwest of the country.
Conflict between farmers and herdsmen is a common problem across Nigeria and has led to deadly clashes in several states.
Igboho’s whereabouts had been unknown since the DSS raid on his Ibadan home in southwestern Oyo State on July 1. The DSS said at the time that its agents had exchanged heavy gunfire with Igboho’s guards, two of whom were killed.
The DSS said Igboho and his group were planning “to wage a violent insurrection against the Nigerian state”, and called on him to turn himself in.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja, Estelle Shirbon in London and Allegresse Sasse in Cotonou, Editing by William Maclean)