It is already ten days after a bloody raid by operatives of the Department of State Services on his residence in the Soka area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, but the wanted Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, is still underground.
The activist, a spearhead of the separatist agitation for the Yoruba Nation, had been declared wanted by the secret police on allegations of stockpiling arms to destabilise the country, which he has since denied, but his whereabouts remain unknown.
Igboho has also refused to surrender himself to security agents as advised by the DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, at a press briefing in Abuja on July 1.
Efforts by Sunday PUNCH to speak with Igboho and some of the persons close to him proved abortive but a competent source in the South-West confided in our correspondent that Igboho was “alive and safe.”
The residents of Sooka area in Ibadan will not forget the midnight of July 1 in a hurry as sounds of jackboots knocking the ground interrupted their peaceful sleep around 1am before gunshots ushered them into the new month.
The country woke up to reports that “unknown gunmen” had attacked the activist’s residence but the DSS, at a press briefing later that day, said a joint team of security operatives had “raided” Igboho’s residence in the early hours of that Thursday, based on an intelligence report that he was allegedly stockpiling arms.
The DSS also arrested and detained 13 of Igboho’s followers, adding that during a “gun duel,” it killed two of Igboho’s associates later identified as Adogan and Alfa.
Though Igboho escaped the Gestapo raid, his house and cars were riddled with bullets, while bloodstains splattered the floors of the house. The activist went into hiding and switched off his phone lines.
The last time Igboho was heard from was on July 2 in a viral recording obtained by our correspondent and made public by his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in which the Yoruba Nation agitator debunked some reports that the DSS arrested him at Sat Guru Maharaj Ji Camp along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Some persons familiar with the matter have, however, refused to comment on the whereabouts of the Yoruba Nation activist, who gained popularity in January, following his eviction notice to suspected killer herders in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State.
Igboho’s lawyer, Yomi Alliyu (SAN), has since kept mum on the whereabouts of his client. The activist’s spokesman, Koiki, has also remained silent on his principal’s location.
However, an elder statesman in the South-West, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent, “They took all his phones but he is alive and safe.”
When asked whether Igboho had left the shores of Nigeria, the elder statesman said, “I can’t answer that but we won’t abandon him this period.”
Multiple sources claimed that Igboho had been placed on a watch list by the government, but Sunday 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.
Similarly, a former Assistant Director with the DSS, Dennis Amachree, said it was procedural for the secret police to issue a wire to sister agencies such as the NIS and the NCS for a wanted person not to be allowed out of the country.
“If the DSS declares somebody wanted, the person will be placed on a watch list at all border posts and if the person tries to either leave the country or cross the border, the watch list will expose the person,” Amachree had said in an interview with our correspondent.
On whether the secret police would place a bounty on Igboho, a former Director with the DSS, Mike Ejiofor, told Sunday PUNCH that the magnitude of a crime committed by a fleeing offender would determine whether a bounty would be placed on such a suspect.
He said, “It depends on the level of the person’s complicity and magnitude of the crime but I don’t know whether the DSS will place a bounty on him. He has been declared wanted and they (DSS) have their own procedure of looking for him and they will follow the procedure to get him. It is left for the DSS.”
DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, could not be reached after calls and text messages were sent to his line on the matter.
But the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, said some monarchs had started intervening in the matter, while Alliyu demanded N500m damages over the destruction of the house and cars of the activist during the raid.
He had also demanded the release of the detained persons, who want to be taken before the Federal High Court in Abuja and be granted bail.
Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, also condemned the invasion, which he described as “bizarre.”
Similarly, Southern governors, on Monday, resolved that security agencies must notify them as the chief security officers of their states before they carry out any operation within their domains.
However, the DSS, buoyed by the Presidency’s commendation of the raid, vowed that there would be no “hiding place” for Igboho.