There are indications that wanted Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has gone underground following a manhunt for him by the Department of State Services for allegedly stockpiling arms to destabilise Nigeria.
Findings by our correspondent showed that the whereabouts of Igboho, a lead figure in the separatist agitation for the Yoruba Nation, is also unknown to his associates.
Some of his associates, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said they had not been able to reach him since the DSS launched a manhunt for him on Thursday night.
Repeated efforts by our correspondent to reach Igboho on his known phone numbers proved abortive as his lines were perpetually switched off, a measure some of his associates said was necessary to avoid him being tracked by security agents who were on his trail.
The DSS had said a joint team of security operatives raided Igboho’s residence in the early hours of Thursday based on an intelligence report that he was allegedly stockpiling arms.
The DSS also paraded 12 of Igboho’s followers in Abuja on Thursday, saying one other was being profiled.
Parading the suspects at the national headquarters of the secret police, its spokesman, Peter Afunaya, said the security team was engaged in a gun duel by men suspected to be Igboho’s guards. Two of the guards died in the shootout while some were injured.
Afunaya stated, “A team of joint security operatives raided the residence of Sunday Adeyemo at Soka in Ibadan. This was based on intelligence that he had stockpiled arms in the place.
“On approach to his residence, the team came under heavy gun attack by nine men suspected to be Igboho’s guards. Six were armed with AK-47 guns and three others with pump-action rifles.
“In the course of the exchange, two of the armed men were gunned down, while the rest were subdued and arrested. Only one operative, who was shot by the assailants, sustained an injury in his right hand. He has, however, received medical attention and is very stable.
“The gun duel which lasted for an hour offered Igboho the chance to escape. Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, is now on the run. Igboho may run as far as he can. He may hide as long as he wants. He might have attacked security operatives as his strength carried him. But this will be the end of his shenanigans. Soon, he will not have a hiding place. His strength will sure fail him. And the law will catch up with him. The law may be slow. But it will be steady.”
Afunaya added that the team searched the house and subsequently recovered seven AK-47 assault rifles, three pump-action guns, 30 fully charged AK-47 magazines, 5,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, five cutlasses, one jack-knife, one pen knife, two pistol holsters, a pair of binoculars, a wallet containing $5, local and international driving licences in his name, ATM cards, a German residence permit No. YO2N6K1NY bearing his name; two whistles, 50 cartridges, and 18 walkie-talkies.
Others are three charm jackets/traditional body armour, two laptops, one Toshiba and one Compaq laptops and his passport and those of many others.
Afunaya added that five of the AK-47 assault rifles recovered from his residence were snatched from the Nigeria Customs and Immigration personnel at Idi Iroko, Ogun State.
Afunaya explained that Igboho and his group, in the guise of the campaign for self-determination, had become well-armed and determined to undermine public order.
He added the arrests and seizures were a confirmation of a grand plan by Igboho and his cohorts to wage a violent insurrection against the Nigerian state.
He said the suspects would be “charged accordingly.”
Multiple sources claimed that Igboho had been placed on watchlist by the government, but Saturday PUNCH could not confirm if the DSS had asked the Nigeria Immigration Service or the Nigeria Customs Service to stop the activist from leaving the country.
The NIS spokesman, Amos Okpu, said he had no information on the issue when contacted on Friday.
DSS always informs Immigration of individuals on watchlist –Ex-director
Meanwhile, a former Assistant Director with the DSS, Dennis Amachree, told Saturday PUNCH that it was procedural for the secret police to issue a wire to sister agencies such as Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Customs Service for a wanted person to not be allowed out of the country.
“If the DSS declares somebody wanted, the person will be placed on watchlist at all border posts and if the person tries to either leave the country or cross the border, the watchlist will expose the person,” Amachree said in an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday.
Asked whether it was also procedural for the DSS to write to financial institutions that the bank accounts of wanted persons be frozen, the former DSS director said, “It depends on the kind of offence the DSS is looking for you for. If it is financial, that will be the duty of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.”
On whether the DSS would approach a court for an ex parte order to block Igboho’s bank accounts, Amachree said, “If during their investigation, they (DSS) discover that he has foreign funding, they will decide what to do about that but I cannot second-guess them.”
Efforts to get the DSS spokesman’s comment on whether or not the secret police had requested banks to block Igboho’s accounts proved abortive as of press time as he did not take his calls or reply to text messages by one of our correspondents.
Amachree, however, said Nigerians must wait for the DSS to charge Igboho and his associates to know the exact charges preferred against them.
On the time it would take the secret police to charge the arrested persons to court, he said, “I don’t know but it will be very soon.”
The ex-DSS director advised Igboho to turn himself in to security agencies.
He said, “Of course, the DSS has already asked him to turn himself in at the nearest security post or police station and from there they can go ahead. But if he decides to be a fugitive, that is left to him but the long arm of the law will get to him whenever.
“We want one Nigeria and if all kinds of people are coming as if the country is a failed state, the security agencies will come out and show everybody that the government is still in power and there is no reason for people to start behaving as if there is no government at all. That’s what the DSS has done.
“Self-determination should be carried out in a proper way. People can go to the legislature, people can organise themselves and talk about it and agree without violence, but when you start to carry arms; when you start to accumulate different kinds of arms, then you are not doing self-determination. What you want to start is insurgency or a separatist fight and I don’t think any responsible government will sit down and allow you accumulate arms and attack it.”
Also, a lawyer and member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Daniel Bwala, said there was nothing wrong with the self-determination struggle of Igboho and his associates adding that the activists shot themselves in the foot by allegedly stockpiling weapons.
He said, “It is constitutionally guaranteed for him to say that the government is not taking care of him and his people and so he wants the Yoruba Nation. It is when you begin to make do with that threat by doing what is unlawful that it becomes an issue.
“If we can be fair, when he started, nobody arrested him. Nobody arrested him when he held rallies in the other states – until he started stockpiling weapons, as we were told.”
On whether the DSS should ask banks to block Igboho’s accounts or not, Bwala said, “If you declare him wanted and you don’t block his source of funding, that means he can access the money to continue his activities.
“But your bank account can’t be blocked until there is an order of the court. No law enforcement agency has the right to do that without an order of the court. The agency needs to get an ex parte order.”
Bwala advised Igboho to stop fleeing, get a good lawyer and report to the security agents because he has rights under the constitution.
He said, “Naturally, anybody who escapes an arrest will look for the best way to evade arrest. Nobody knows where he is. It is only natural for him to leave the shores of the country because if he remains, they will use intelligence to track him. If he has any smart device, they can track his movement.”
South-West governors in emergency meeting
The six governors in the South-West geopolitical zone convened an emergency meeting on Friday over current national issues.
A top source states that the governors met virtually and discussed sundry issues.
The source could, however, not confirm whether the meeting was held because of DSS’ raid of Igboho’s residence.
However, it was gathered that the issue was discussed among others.
“They are meeting but no one is sure if it is because of Igboho. There are several reasons why governors can meet especially in the face of the precarious situation (in the country),” the source said.
It was gathered that the governors who took part in the meeting were Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).
The meeting was chaired by Akeredolu, who is the chairman of the governors’ forum in the zone.
Many Nigerians on social media have lamented the silence of the governors in the zone about 48 hours after the secret police raided Igboho’s residence in a Gestapo style.
Weapons paraded by DSS not mine, I use traditional powers –Igboho
However, Igboho has said the weapons paraded by the DSS as recovered from his house did not belong to him.
Igboho, whose house was invaded by DSS operatives early Thursday, said he used traditional power to protect himself and not guns.
In a statement on Friday by his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, the activist said the weapons paraded by the DSS were either planted in his house or the security agents brought them out from their armoury.
He said the failure of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), to protect the South-West people and the people of the entire southern Nigerian from criminals, including killer herdsmen, was what prompted him to rise up to defend his people.
He said he had never killed anybody during his struggles as he did not chase law-abiding herders from the South-West.
Igboho blamed his travail on the alleged move to Fulanise the country, saying he was seen as a threat to the Fulani agenda to take over the country.
He said, “Nigerians and the international community should please be aware that the security operatives who invaded my home either planted the ammunition being paraded in the media in my home or harvested them from their armoury to frame me. The arms paraded are not mine; they are the government’s magic. I protect myself with traditional powers, not with guns.
“The Federal Government framed me up and the sequence of events brings the truth bare. Why would the security agents invade my home at night and destroy my surveillance cameras before carrying out their operation if they didn’t have an ulterior motive?
“In this modern age, why did the security operatives not put on body cameras to record their activities from the point of entry to their time of exit? Their action is a testament that the Buhari regime is incurable of using a desperate approach to silence peaceful social interventions.”
Igboho claimed that after many futile attempts to incriminate him, the Federal Government finally decided to forcefully silence him to give criminal herdsmen unhindered access to take over the land of the Yoruba people and entire southern Nigeria.
He said, “The Presidency’s serial antics and desperation to acquire people’s ancestral lands across Nigeria for foreign Fulani herdsmen because they share ethnicity and occupation with the President is well known to Nigerians and the international community. I am being seen as a threat to the Fulanisation agenda in the South-West, hence the desperation to soil my name.”
Igboho claimed that the security agents adopted the same style during the attack on defenceless protesters at the Lekki tollgate area of Lagos during the EndSARS protest in October 2020.
He said, “The security operatives killed scores and took away their bodies. Buhari’s regime would have declared that ‘unknown gunmen’ invaded my home if they had succeeded in killing me.
“Nigerians and the international community should beware that desperate efforts are being made to force those arrested to make implicating confessions. I advise the DSS to desist from their unprofessional acts and devote such energy to eradicate insecurity.
“Nigerians and the international community should please note that I am a law-abiding citizen without blemish. I advise President Buhari to, in the interest of Nigerians who voted him to power, order his henchmen to desist from using falsehood and unholy tactics to soil my name.
“Such energy should be devoted to taming the herdsmen and bandits freely committing heinous crimes across Nigeria with impunity because their kinsman is in power.
“The Yoruba people would not be demanding a nation if the government had lived up to its responsibilities. Self-determination is not a crime and all efforts to silence us and acquire our ancestral land for local and foreign criminal herdsmen will fail.
Igboho didn’t abandon associates, he ran to fight another day –Ifa priest, Elebuibon
A prominent Ifa priest, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, has described as tragic, operatives of the DSS’ raid of the residence of Igboho.
The diviner also said Igboho didn’t abandon his associates who were in his Soka, Ibadan residence when the secret police raided the house early Thursday but rather, the activist ran away to fight another day.
Igboho, whom many believed have metaphysical powers, have been publicly seen putting on African bulletproof vests, some of which were recovered when the DSS raided his residence around 1am on Thursday.
Many have since wondered why Igboho didn’t help his associates to escape but speaking in an interview with BBC Yoruba on Friday monitored by one of our correspondents, Elebuibon said Igboho didn’t abandon his aides but he ran to fight another day.
Responding to questions, the Ifa priest also faulted the Gestapo style in which the DSS raided Igboho’s house. He advised the DSS to learn from their counterparts in civilised nations who effect arrests in a peaceful and non-violent manner.
Elebuibon further stated, “It is not that his (Igboho’s) charms failed him, the whole raid was an attack, an invasion, a tragedy.
“He was not prepared for the attack, it happened all of sudden but he who fights and runs lives to fight another day. A warrior who fights and doesn’t know how to retreat will perish with the battle. He (Igboho) ran to fight another day. He didn’t abandon his followers because if he hadn’t escaped, it would have been a different thing entirely.”