How activist celebrated birthday in jail while defending Nigerian territory against Benin encroachment

A NIGERIAN activist Kunle Garb has narrated how he was jailed by the authorities of the Benin Republic while defending encroachment of some parcels of land in Ogun State, Nigeria.

Kunle Garb, a resident of Igbokofi in Yewa-North Local Government Area of Ogun State, in an interview with the Punch Newspaper, stated that he was whisked away by the Beninese Police on June 24.

Garb, who later had his birthday on June 26 in jail, said the problem started in 2019 when the government of Benin started encroaching into Igbokofi, a border community with the Benin Republic.

He alleged that the Benin people started by removing the poles that were used as a boundary, before building a school and Police station on areas belonging to Nigeria in the community.

“When I noticed these abnormalities, I went to the community elders to buy land from them and I was given a parcel of land towards the dead end of the encroached land.”

Garb said he later built a church and a tuition-free missionary school on the land, adding that he had organised protests in the past to agitate against the land encroachment.

“On June 24, I was going to the market to get oranges and sugar cane when I was intercepted by the Beninise Police before they whisked me to Igana Police station.”

The activist, who said he was denied access to a lawyer, alleged that he was offered a bribe while in Police custody in order to succumb to their bidding.

“I told them I would rather be jailed than pull down the school that would allow them to encroach further.”



    He added that he was denied access to drugs while in the prison before was later taken to court on July 13.

    “When we got to the court, I stood in for myself because they could not allow a Nigerian lawyer who was employed by Ogun State government to defend me.”

    Garb said he was later released because the Beninese government did not have any proof to back up the charges against him.

    He, however, said he was happy that the Nigerian government had started working hard to reclaim the encroached land.





    'Niyi worked with The ICIR as an Investigative Reporter and Fact-checker from 2020 till September 2022. You can shoot him an email via [email protected]. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @niyi_oyedeji.

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