Igboho, a former bodyguard to Rashidi Ladoja, an erstwhile governor of the Pace Setter State, had been leading calls for the secession of South-West Nigeria, holding rallies across the region and garnering a massive following. But the Nigerian federal government classifies his campaign as acts capable of undermining the sovereignty of Nigeria.
Then-Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Nigeria, Mohammed Adamu had sent letters of invitation to Igboho, which his media aide, Olayomi Koiki disclosed the Oyo-state born separatist turned down.
Nigeria’s secret police - charged with the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria - in a Press Conference on Thursday night, stated that a gun duel that lasted for one hour offered Igboho the chance to flee.
DSS Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunnaya, who disclosed this to newsmen at the national headquarters of the agency, maintained that Igboho is not above the law. Arms and ammunitions reportedly recovered from Igboho's house were displayed.
The DSS' operation, which led to two deaths (according to the security service) and several arrests have got Twitter and social media generally talking.
Some Nigerians, especially critics of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, have questioned the lawfulness of the DSS' action "in the absence of a court order".
But a Lagos-based lawyer, Taiwo Nurudeen Abolarin, who spoke to AllNews on Friday said that law enforcement agents can break in and out of premises to effect an arrest even without prior notice. He gave a condition though.
Abolarin added that: "Law enforcement agents have the right to shoot at anyone who resists".
"Arrest can be made upon reasonable suspicion of a person committing an offence or upon suspicion that an offence is about to be committed," Abolarin said.
"The law enforcement agencies have right of ingress and egress in carrying out an arrest. This implies that law enforcement agents can break in and out of a premise to effect an arrest.
"Law enforcement agents have the right to shoot at anyone who viciously resists arrest, especially by engaging the law enforcement agents in a gun duel.
"It is unlikely that Igboho and his cohorts would peacefully surrender to an arrest. Besides, they have a stockpile of arms and ammunition in the premises. That’s another pointer to the fact that they would definitely resist arrest. It would have been a different case if law enforcement agents got there and they surrendered to arrest and the DSS still went ahead to shoot.
"They also have the power to employ the use of reasonable force to effect an arrest. However, they don’t have the right to shoot if the suspects didn’t take flight or engage them with weapons."
Barrister Nurudeen Temilola Yusuf, also Lagos-based, first clarified that the Constitution of Nigeria does not recognise the right to secede.
According to Yusuf, "before you can take control of any part of the areas, states or the whole of Nigeria, it must be in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution".
Yusuf explained that self-determination "is not the same as secession". He pointed out that with or without an arrest warrant, the DSS is empowered to capture anybody "upon reasonable suspicion".
"First, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) does not recognize the rights of any of the federating units to form its own independent government or ‘secede’ from the country.
"Section (1) (1) made the Constitution supreme to the extent that it shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Sub (2) further provides that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed or any person take control of the Government except in accordance with the Constitution. Section 2(1) of the Constitution also provides that the country Nigeria shall be one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state. Sub (2) too also states that Nigeria shall be consisting of states and the FCT. Section 3 now named the 36 States and areas it covers in Part 1, First Schedule to the Constitution.
"The combined effect of the above provision of the highest law in the land is that before you can take control of any part of the areas, states or the whole of Nigeria, it must be in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Therefore, any attempt or attempted attempt to take control of any part of the ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’ in manners not permitted by the Constitution is an offence against the states. By the state here, I mean the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Such conduct will be seen as an attempt to take over Government, referred to as Treason.
"Section 37 of the Criminal Code CAP C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004 defines conduct that can lead to treason as the action of any person who levies war against the state in order to intimidate or overawe the president or governor of a state is guilty of treason and should be punished by death.
"I must quickly point out here that the right to Self-determination, which is the right of people to self-actualization, taking control of destiny and achieving the apogee of your desire is not the same as secession.
"The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) in Section 5 vested the powers to implement any law made by the National Assembly in the Executive and mandated them to protect the Constitution. Any infraction on the Constitution or Laws made by the National Assembly which is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society must be suppressed by the Executive with the instrumentality of the law enforcement agencies.
"Therefore, law enforcement agencies in the execution of the power of arrest and prosecution granted by their respective enabling legislation, in this case, the State Security Service (SSS) or DSS is empowered to capture anybody upon reasonable suspicion (with or without a warrant) that such person has committed an offence and by Section 12 and 13 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 break into or break out of a property for the purposes of effecting arrest or liberation.
"Following from the above, the attack on Sunday Igboho's residence at Soka in Ibadan will be justified - if all reasonable precautions have been taken by the Federal Government and the Law enforcement agency."
Another lawyer, Barrister Temitope Omotayo, who is based in Ekiti state, while echoing the thoughts of Abolarin, meanwhile said Igboho can sue the DSS if he feels his rights have been breached.
"There is no doubt that the security operatives have the legal power to go into any place and search such property, in case there is a reasonable suspicion that such property might be pulling off illegality. However, there are procedures, like obtaining warrants. And if such warrants are not duly obtained, the person whose house was invaded can seek for violation of his rights and claim damages.
"An important thing is that, in criminal law, no matter how the evidence is obtained, it will be admissible in evidence in court," Omotayo told AllNews.