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Benin Republic accused of unlawful detention of 5000 innocent Nigerian youths, President Tinubu urged to intervene

National President-General, Ohanaeze Youth Council, Comrade Igboayaka O. Igboayaka, centre, Chairman, Ogbaku-Umunna Heritage Assembly, Abuja, Mazi Chibuike Agwulonu, right and Mrs. Sadiq-Njoku Fransica, left, also of Ogbaku-Umunna Heritage Assembly during the press conference in Abuja on Sunday

By our reporter

The National President-General of Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), Comrade Igboayaka O. Igboayaka took a scantling swipe on the government of Benin Republic for allegedly detaining over 5000 innocent Nigerians in its prisons over the years.

He made the allegation at a press conference at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, FCT, Abuja on Sunday.

According to him, 98% of those detained are Nigerian youths of average age of 25 to 50 years who are going about their legitimate businesses.

Igboayaka pointed out it was important to bring to the notice of the world and Federal Republic of Nigeria over the excruciating pains and agony including extrajudicial killings, harassment, maltreatment and undue detention of innocent Nigerian youths who are merely doing their legitimate business in some states and cities in Republic of Benin.

He said the Nigerians are languishing in thirteen prisons across Benin Republic. The President-General said the prisons are Akpro Misserete Prison, Cotonou Prison, Abomey-Calavi Prison, Ouidah Prison, Adjara Lokossa Porto Novo prison, Parakou Prison, Kandi Prison, Savolou Prison, Agassa Godomey Prison, Ekpe Agblangandan, Akrake Prison, Njeregbe Prison and Godomey Okotome Prison.

Igboayaka regretted that about 5% of those detained are being alleged of frivolous crime by Republic of Benin without any evidence of crime noting that 95% are totally innocent Nigerians who do legitimate businesses in Benin Republic with legitimate and verifiable sources of income.

He explained that some of them were those who travelled from other countries for business trip to Benin Republic.The President-General said prison inmates also alleged that innocent Nigerians who are walking across Nigeria and Benin Republic border are most times arrested and detained in the D’Akpro Misserete Prison and are charged with terrorism.

He said the same fate befalls multitude of Northern Nigerians who lawfully reside and do their businesses in Benin Republic are unlawfully arrested, detained and charged with terrorism even without having found with any weapon or evidence of such crime on them.

Igboayaka chronicled some alleged incidences of these illegal arrests and detention of Nigerian Youths in Benin Republic.

They include that of Okpala Maxwell and Obi Author Uzuchukwu on 25 September 2023, unlawfully arrested and detained because he was boarding from Cotonou Airport back to his base in Brazil who deals on travelling bags and women’s bags. Since then it has been one story to another without any proof of crime against him.

On 18 April, 2023, Okumah Chika Lawrence who lawfully works as an administrate staff-Dean Of Students Affairs of a Private University, Esfam Benin University, Porto Benin Republic, was unlawfully arrested and detained in prison without any evidence of crime committed. Till date, he has been unlawfully detained in prison and all efforts to release him have been abortive.

Besides, the President-General said on 30 November, 2020, Mr Fidelis Chimezie Udensi a business man in Lagos that deals on provision but went to Benin Republic for business trip, was unlawful arrested and detained and every effort made with some of his lawyers from Cotonou to release him prove abortive.

He also gave some names of those unlawfully detained in Benin Republic prisons are Fadogba James, from Ekiti State, Alassane Soule, from Niger State, Okumah Chika Lawrence, from Anambra State, Bassey Sunday, from Akwa Ibom State and Mouhamadou Mainassara, from Kwara State.

Others are Fwah Enock Jebison, from Adamawa State, Onu Vincent Okechukwu, from Enugu State, Ugochukwu Samuel, from Imo State, Ishaya Wycleff, from Adamawa State and Odi Onyekachi, from Ebonyi State.

He regretted that both innocent Nigerians and those that might be guilty of the crime alleged, are handed unreasonable long jail term between five to twenty years without option of fine.

Igboayaka noted that with the fact of serving half of the jail term and request such innocent Nigerians to pay a compulsory fee tagged ‘liberte fee’ which ranges from CFA 500, 000 to CFA10,000,000 that is if the person’s name appears on the liberte list.

He alleged that whoever fails or unable to pay the liberte fee would completely serve the jail term even if it is twenty years imprisonment.

The President-General accused the president of Benin Republic, Patrice Talon of undemocratic tyrannical government that is geared towards sabotaging Africa.

He noted that President Talon is also accused of using innocent Nigerian citizens for human trafficking, organ harvesting, modern day slavery after illegal arrest and detention of such victims in a neo-mafia gestapo style.Igboayaka accused Benin Republic of practicing modern day slavery against other citizens from many African countries most of whom are Nigerian youths.

He urged President Bola Tinubu and other relevant authorities to ensure that proper investigation is conducted through various offices with local and international standards of truth-findings.

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