The International Refugee Law permits Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, to enter any country even with a “fake passport”, Olasupo Ojo, Coordinator, Legal Affairs for the agitator, has said.
Article 31 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees provides thus: “The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of Article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorisation, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.
“The Contracting States shall not apply to the movements of such refugees restrictions other than those which are necessary and such restrictions shall only be applied until their status in the country is regularised or they obtain admission into another country.
“The Contracting States shall allow such refugees a reasonable period and all the necessary facilities to obtain admission into another country.”
Speaking on Wednesday while featuring on PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable, Igboho’s lawyer, however, said his client didn’t obtain a fake Beninese Passport as reported by some section of the media.
Ojo said Igboho’s life was under threat by the State Security Service, hence, the activist felt the need to run for his life.
According to the lawyer, Igboho, having fled Nigeria, photocopies of his German residential permit and his Nigerian passport were enough for him to travel under international law. “So, he didn’t obtain any fake passport,” he said.
“Anybody fleeing for his life is protected under international law and the fact that he has even applied for asylum makes him untouchable,” the lawyer stressed.
Igboho, an arrowhead of the secessionist agitation for Yoruba nation, has been in detention since July 19, 2021 when he was arrested round 8pm by Interpol at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
The secret police in Nigeria had raided his Ibadan residence some three weeks before he was arrested in Cotonou.
The secret police had said it killed two of his associates and arrest about 12 others during the bloody raid around 1am on July 1, 2021.
Igboho was arrested in Cotonou when he tried to catch a flight to Germany after the Nigerian Government notified Interpol that he should be hunted.
Speaking on PUNCH Roundtable, Ojo said the secret police acted illegally by raiding his client’s house and by declaring him wanted without a court order.
The lawyer said, “Anybody faced with such situation is entitled to take necessary steps to protect his life. He (Igboho) has chosen to flee the country for the preservation of his life and international law permits him to do that whether legally or illegally, you have the right to preserve your life first.
“Even if you enter any country illegally, that seeming illegality is legalised by the international refugee law that anybody who is fearful of his life has the right to go out of any country anyhow and enter any country anyhow and apply for asylum.
“Even if you have a fake passport, the moment you get to that country and you apply for asylum, and you explain that ‘this is why I did this’, you have not committed any crime.
“In addition to that, this is ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), any citizen of West African can enter any country in the region without a visa.”
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