A human rights lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, has advised a self-styled Yoruba warlord, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, to seek court protection from being arrested and detained by security operatives.
Mr Ozekhome gave the advice in a statement on Sunday to condemn the attempted arrest of Mr Igboho.
This newspaper reported how security operatives attached to Operation Burst, a joint police-military outfit, in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Friday, attempted to arrest Mr Igboho.
He was accosted on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway while on his way to meet an elder statesman, Ayo Adebanjo.
While the state police spokesperson, Olugbenga Fadeyi, refused to speak on what played out in Ibadan on Friday, the spokesperson of the State Security Service (SSS) Peter Afunanya, said its officers were not part of the operation.
Mr Igboho, who confirmed the incident, said authorities should go after Boko Haram leader, Ibrahim Shekau, and Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, who has been holding meetings with bandits before coming for him.
In his statement, Mr Ozekhome said the attempt to arrest the acclaimed warrior is an act of terrorism, advising that authorities ought to have sent him an invitation if they felt he had committed an offence.
“If the security agents felt there were any internal security issues or breach of the law, they should have invited him to the DSS or police office,” he said.
“It became, therefore, totally absurd that a whole security armada like soldiers, the police and the DSS will waylay an innocent Nigerian citizen in a commando-like manner and attempt to abduct him. At least, Nigerians have not been told he has committed an offence, or what offence, if any.
“What if Sunday Igboho and his handlers had felt they were being kidnapped and responded with a shootout? There would have been unnecessary mayhem and loss of lives because of the indecent and incongruous manner and way the attempted arrest was carried out.
“What the government does not still seem to understand is that because it has failed to give security and welfare to the Nigerian people as provided for in Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution, ethnic nationalism is fast rising in a way that ethnic groups and the various nationalities in the Nigerian contraption have begun to feel that they need to go the extra mile to protect themselves from ravaging insecurity.
“Someone needs to drum it to the ears of this government that the young man with a tattooed face that proudly displays his tribal marks is no longer an ordinary “small boy” representing himself alone. He has become a metaphor for the Yoruba struggle for self-determination.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, however, asked Mr Igboho to approach a court of law under the Fundamental Rights Enforcement (Procedure) Rules and seek protection from being killed or arrested.
“Sunday Igboho can approach a court of law under the Fundamental Rights Enforcement (Procedure) Rules and seek protection from being killed, arrested, being waylaid, being detained and having his humanity degraded.
“He can go to court to seek his fundamental rights that he is entitled to freedom of movement, freedom of association and the right to move about and across Nigeria to any part that he wishes, without let or hindrance. See sections 32, 33, 35, 40 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution.
“A court of law will readily grant him that protection because it has not been shown that he has committed any offence; and none is alleged against him. If any has been alleged against him, then they could invite him over to make a statement. We are operating a constitutional democracy where things are done by the rule of law; not rule of the thumb,” he said.