Freedom fighter, activist, and leader of the self-proclaimed “Yoruba Nation,” Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has been arrested three weeks after he was declared wanted by the Nigerian security agents after his Ibadan residence in Oyo state Nigeria was “raided” by men of the Nigerian Military. The 48 years old activist first made headlines during the Modakeke-Ife communal crisis of 1997, where he played an active role as a defender of the Modakeke people and then in January 2021 when he gave an ultimatum to the Fulani settlers in Ibarapa to vacate the community after they allegedly killed Dr. Aborode.
Sunday Igboho’s activism is embodied in his chosen nomenclature of “Igboho.” Igboho is the name of the town he was born in, Oke Ogun, in Oyo State. He bears the name Igboho to show that he is proud of his roots, especially as he is the Akoni Oodua of Yoruba land and an advocate for the Oduduwa Republic.
He has been very vocal and has been in headlines ever since he gave the Fulani inhabitants an ultimatum to leave, and this is further strengthened by the several civil unrests that have beclouded Nigeria in recent years with separatist and self-determination groups like Ipob (Indigenous People Of Biafra) and the Oduduwa Republic clamoring for self-actualization based on the downward plunge on the state of the Nigerian Nation, and its socio-economic and political climes.
Sunday Igboho’s activism and the actualization of the Oduduwa Nation
Also referred to as the “Nnamdi Kanu” of the South West, Sunday Igboho’s activism into the actualization of the Yoruba nation/Oduduwa republic, which stems from the feeling of marginalization, oppression, and subjugation due to the perceived “Land grabbing” and killings allegedly meted out by the Fulani herdsmen. In recent times, Nigeria has incurred an additional “plague” from the activities of the Notorious Fulani herdsmen, whose daredevil activities have become increasingly rampant in several parts of the country since the present political dispensation.
The nefarious activities of the so-called Fulani herdsmen, which involves wanton destruction of farmlands by their cattle and the killing of villagers by the herdsmen in various parts of Nigeria, including various parts of the Southwest region, paved the way for the fresh angst and agitation by Sunday Igboho and the position of an “enough is enough, give us Oduduwa Nation.”
The Fulani Quit Notice
Fed up by the destruction that trails the presence of the Fulani Herdsmen, Sunday Igboho ordered an ultimatum to all Fulani herdsmen living in the Ibarapa local government area of Oyo State and by large the South West region, to vacate. Mr. Igboho fingered the herdsmen as the culprits responsible for the deaths and kidnappings happening in Yoruba land.
His ultimatum sparked headlines and several boomeranging reactions, as Youths of Ibarapa, in ensuring that the Fulani herdsmen vacated their community, decided to use force, resulting in mayhem and chaos, which led to the loss of lives of both indigenes and the Fulanis. The home of the leader of the Fulani was also set ablaze. The actions of Igboho and the youths resulted in the Inspector General of Police ordering his arrest.
However, Igboho had already embarked on his journey of agitation, and as such, didn’t back down on his activities. All efforts to make him reverse his position proved abortive and fell on deaf ears; not even the interference of Seyi Makinde, the Governor of Oyo State, asking Igboho to stand down, could change his mind.
How The Influence Of Sunday Igboho Grew
Based on the pre-existing grievance harbored by Nigerians and the seeming lackadaisical attitude of Nigerian Security forces to bring to a halt the various violent activities of the Fulani Herdsmen, Sunday Igboho’s lone voice of rebellion in the South West against the “forces of oppression” and his courage to speak out, soon skyrocketed him to a Messiah Status. He garnered sympathizers and followership as he became a beacon for all the aggrieved Yoruba people. So the agitation of the Self-actualization of the Yoruba people was once again resurrected with Mr. Igboho as the frontline.
The police, who decided to go after Sunday Igboho, only accrued more sympathizers, as many viewed it as a Witch hunt. As such, they threw their weight behind him. His costumes of elaborately displayed “African Magic” of traditional protection against bullets further drew more attention to him. At this point, the world watches Sunday Igboho Versus the Nigerian Government and the Fulani Herdsmen.
Mr. Sunday Igboho has successfully drawn attention to the Yoruba Nation Movement
In March 2021, Sunday Igboho singlehandedly declared that the Yoruba people are no longer a part of Nigeria. He urged all the Yoruba people living in the Northern parts of Nigeria to end their suffering and return to Yoruba land. In a video that went viral, as he made his speech in Ibadan, Mr. Sunday Igboho said;
He also insisted that he was speaking for the totality of the Yoruba people and dared any Yoruba elder of traditional ruler to go against the movement, as he claimed to have the support of the Governors of the southwest region and the backing of the Yoruba traditional rulers during a pro-Yoruba Nation rally in Osun State in May 2021.
However, following his claims, the Secretary-General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Kunle Olajide, in a statement, denounced Igboho’s claims and said Igboho could not speak for the Yoruba people, and they are not supporting him in his quest for secession.
The disowning of Sunday Igboho’s aspirations by the Yoruba Council of elders didn’t deter Sunday; neither did it dwindle the Yoruba nation Movement. It ironically amassed more attention to Sunday Igboho, his activities and further increased the agitation for the Oduduwa Republic.
The Activist Currently Enjoys “Millions” of Support From The Diaspora and Nigeria
According to an article written by the Chairman of Council, Yoruba Global Alliance, Chief Tola Adeniyi, Sunday Igboho boasts over 300 million supporters in Nigeria and across the Diaspora. Amongst his supporters, some notable personalities and groups have been vocal about their support for the freedom fighter. In February 2021, a GoFundme was created by the United Kingdom-based Maureen Badejo for Sunday Igboho to help purchases buses; it is reported that millions of naira were raised for Sunday Igboho via the fundraising medium.
Professor Emeritus Banji Akintoye, the leader of the umbrella body of Yoruba self-determination groups, Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO), has also thrown his weight behind Sunday Igboho as he called for massive protests both nationwide and in the Diaspora against the Nigerian government for their July 1st raid on the activist’s residence.
In May 2021, veteran and popular Yoruba Singer Chief Wasiu Ayinde Marshall declared his support for Sunday Igboho as he sang his praises in a song. A group of people who also identify as the OPC and Yoruba warriors also threw their weight behind Sunday Igboho as they expressed their willingness to fight beside him.
Also, the spokesperson and publicity Secretary of the separatist group, IPOB (Indigenous People Of Biafra), Mr. Emma Powerful, declared support for Sunday Igboho, according to a report by Saharareporters.
A look at the Official Instagram account of the activist, which boasts close to 170 thousand followers, shows an influx of supporters on his comment section by various people as they drop words and emojis of encouragement on his rally videos and activities.
Additionally, many Yoruba youths have also emerged as supporters of Sunday Igboho, as seen in various protests against the seeming targeted witch hunt on Sunday Igboho by the Nigerian Government following the raid of his residence and subsequent arrest.
The Arrest Of Sunday Igboho
News broke out on Tuesday the 20th of July 2021 that Sunday Igboho was arrested in Cotonou, Benin Republic, as he attempted to board a flight to Germany with his wife, who is a German. After the July 1st raid on Sunday Igboho’s residence, which left casualties in its wake, including the media parade of weapons, charms, and international passports suspected to belong go Sunday Igboho and his men, it has been reported that Igboho had escaped and was in hiding.
Subsequently, Igboho was declared wanted by the DSS following the alleged discovery of sophisticated AK-47 rifles during the raid. Igboho was planning a Pro-Yoruba Nation rally in Lagos State, slated for 3rd July 2021 before the raid in his “secret hideout.”
Sunday Igboho is also believed to possess metaphysical powers and has been reported to reveal that no one can harm him because he was born with spiritual powers. An assertion that has come to be widely believed following the previous attacks on his residence in January and April 2021, of which assailants did not harm him.
However, in a seeming anti-climax, Sunday Igboho was arrested in Cotonou on Monday night, the 19th of July 2021. According to reports, he had falsified a Benin Republic Passport and attempted to travel out to Germany, where three of his children are professional footballers.
According to a statement by Yomi Alliyu (SAN), Igboho’s Lead Counsel; the Federal Government of Nigeria through the INTERPOL, had Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, and his wife, a German citizen; arrested on Monday night at an airport in the Cotonou Benin Republic; one of Nigeria’s neighboring countries in West Africa.
After news of his arrest broke out, sympathizers and supporters of Sunday Igboho have condemned the arrest. However, reports surfaced that Igboho, rather than getting arrested, surrendered to the Nigerian Government Authorities. According to Pelumi Olajengbesi, one of Sunday Igboho’s Legal Counsels, the activist allowed himself to be nabbed “because he wanted to make himself available to the government.”
Sunday Igboho is set to be repatriated to Nigeria to answer for the Arms and Ammunitions found during the July 1st raid at his residence, which was tagged his secret hideout. According to Peter Afunanya, the spokesman for the DSS,
The Nigerian Government Versus Separatists Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu
The Nigerian Civil war of 1967-1970, referred to as the Biafran Genocide in many quarters, is one of the bleakest times in Nigeria’s history. Although it’s been over five decades since the war, the bitter aftertaste still lingers as the spirit of secession is still very much alive. The South-eastern region of Nigeria is ranked as the most politically marginalized region of the country, thereby breeding a new set of separatist activists that resounds the “Ghost” of the Civil war. This time, it is not Odumegwu Ojukwu, but a man called Nnamdi Kanu, who is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a movement for the actualization of the country Biafra.
The last few years have seen the Saga between Nnamdi Kanu and the Nigerian Government. After his release on bail in 2017, Nnamdi Kanu fled Nigeria after men of the Nigerian Military invaded his home. Recently, in late June 2021, after 4 years of heightened agitation, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in Kenya and repatriated to Nigeria. He is currently being held by the Nigerian Government as he stands trials on charges of treasonable offenses.
Therefore, with the additional arrest of Sunday Igboho, who is now being branded as the Nnamdi Kanu of the Southwest, and people comparing his saga with the Nigerian Government authorities with that of Nnamdi Kanu, the big question that lingers is, Is the Nigerian Government fighting secessionists for National unity and interest? Or is the Nigerian Government becoming a dictatorship?
With the various grievance spurring the increasing self-actualization movements, what steps are being taken to dialogue with the affected region and put in place the much-required reconstructions for national unity?