The Federal Government is plotting the arrest of the Yoruba Nation arrowhead, Prof Banji Akintoye, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
It was reliably gathered that the octogenarian professor of history has since left Nigeria for neighbouring Benin Republic to escape the plot for his arrest.
The regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has in recent months turned maddening heat on separatists.
Akintoye, the leader of the umbrella body of the Yoruba self-determination group known as Ilana Omo Oodua, and the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Igboho, have been seen together at press conferences and rallies championing the cause to secede from the Nigerian state and establish a Yoruba Nation.
A top source privy to the matter confided in our correspondent that security forces plotted Akintoye’s arrest before the raid of Igboho’s residence in the Soka area, Ibadan, Oyo State.
However, the source said the 86-year-old scholar left Nigeria to the French-speaking West African country three months ago because he needed to be “faster than his enemies.”
The Department of State Services raided Igboho’s residence around 1am on July 1, 2021 before he was arrested in Cotonou, Benin Republic on July 19, 2021.
Speaking with Sunday PUNCH, a top source close to Akintoye said the professor left Nigeria “about three months before Igboho was arrested.”
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak on the matter, said, “It is true that the Federal Government wants to arrest him (Akintoye), they want to intimidate him and detain him.
“There were plans to pick him up and intimidate him and put him behind bars in an attempt to kill the struggle but the plot was uncovered and he left. He didn’t step out of Nigeria for more than five years before he left some three months back when the plot to arrest him was uncovered.
“But what has Baba done if not only that he is agitating for Yoruba Nation? He is agitating for the sovereignty of Yoruba Nation which is a fundamental human right. They want to charge him for treason. But it is not a crime to ask for self-determination or dissolution of a country.”
“Baba is not hiding; he left Nigeria for Republic of Benin months back. He is not hiding, but you need to be faster than your enemies,” the source added.
On whether Akintoye has met with Igboho in detention, the source simply said, “He has been coordinating the struggle from the Republic of Benin.”
When contacted, the Communications Manager of the Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Maxwell Adeleye, declined immediate comments on the matter. “I will get back to you,” he told our correspondent on Saturday but he had yet to do so as of press time.
The DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, neither took his calls nor responded to a text message seeking confirmation on the matter.