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Nobel Laureate urges Benin to release Nigerian activist

Nigeria's Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has urged the Government of Benin Republic to release a Nigerian activist, Sunday Igboho, who…

Nigeria’s Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has urged the Government of Benin Republic to release a Nigerian activist, Sunday Igboho, who is currently in detention in neighbouring West African country “and let him go about his business”.Soyinka told a news conference in Lagos that the raid by the Department of State Services (DSS) on Sunday Igboho’s home as unjust and asked Benin Republic to release him as it had no need to detain him.

According to him, the activist demanding for a Yoruba Nation had done nothing to warrant the invasion of his home by men of the DSS.

“Igboho peacefully demonstrated,” Soyinka said. “I don’t consider someone calling for secession a criminal act. As long as it is done peacefully, it is acceptable,” he said.

Igboho, who was declared wanted by the DSS for agitating for a separate Yoruba nation (to be carved out of Nigeria) was allegedly arrested in Benin Republic on his way to Germany 

The Nobel laureate has also criticised the ongoing plans by the Nigerian Government to reopen grazing routes across the country.

Soyinka said that many experts in Nigeria had identified ranching as the solution to the perennial farmer-herder conflicts in the country.

He disclosed that the whole nation is virtually screaming that “we do not want any open cattle grazing. Whether they go by the name of cattle routes or grazing reserves”.

“Round the entire nation, we’ve had opinions surmounting the antiquated mode of cattle rearing.

“Even the all-powerful, untouchable Miyetti Allah (Fulani Cattle Rearing association) even they have gone on record to say that ranching is what we want.

“And when we think all that debate is settled in rational terms, along comes a new version, rather like Decree 4, of Ruga, with the President insisting on sending his agents out to map out and recover the old grazing reserves when governments and people and experts, agronomists, businesspeople are saying that this is a business and it should be conducted in this particular way.

“So why is this President obsessing about something which is being rejected right, left and centre,” local media reports quoted Soyinka as saying.

Soyinka, who was reacting to President Buhari’s approval, earlier this month, of the recommendations of a committee to review 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in Nigeria “to determine the levels of encroachment”, also faulted the recent query the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission issued to Channels Television.

He likened it to Decree 4, an instrument designed to gag the press during the military government headed by Buhari.

“I think nobody is left in any doubt that both the spirit and the letter of this broadcasting commission decree have indicated clearly that the freedom of expression is being taken and it should be stopped as quickly as possible,” he said.

 

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