President of Benin Republic, Patrice Talon, has expressed readiness to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the French-speaking West African nation and Nigeria.
Talon also said Benin Republic was ready to revitalise its relationship with Germany, Ghana, Gabon and Norway.
He made this known on Tuesday when he received the new ambassadors from the five countries.
The envoys also presented their letters of credence to the Beninese President. They are Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.) from Nigeria, Christine Churcher (Ghana), Michael Derus (Germany), Sayid Abeloko (Gabon), and Knut Lein (Norway).
In a statement, the Beninese Government said Talon granted audience to each of the new ambassadors and discussed with them the revitalisation and strengthening of bilateral cooperation between these different countries and Benin.
Talon was also said to have received a brief update on the state of cooperation between Benin, Nigeria and the other countries, and expressed his availability to assist them in their respective missions.
“The President of the Republic also took the opportunity to invite the new Ambassadors to work more on consolidating and strengthening the warm relations that already exist between their countries and Benin,” the statement added.
Buratai’s meeting with the Beninese President occurred amid the planned extradition of wanted Yoruba nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho.
It was, however, not clear whether or not Buratai discussed Igboho’s extradition with the Beninese President.
Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff between July 2015 and January 2021, was deployed as Nigeria’s envoy in the Benin Republic in June 2021.
Igboho, an arrowhead of the secessionist agitation for Yoruba nation, has been in detention since July 19, 2021 when he was arrested by Interpol at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou around 8pm. He was arrested when he tried to catch a flight to Germany.
Igboho was arrested after the Nigerian Government notified its West African neighbours – including Benin Republic – that he should be hunted.
He was arrested with his wife, Ropo, but the Cour De’appal De Cotonou ordered the release of the Germany-based wife of the activist, saying there were no allegations against her.
The Beninese court, on Monday, however, ordered that Igboho be remanded in a prison facility in the country while further investigations were carried out on the case against the agitator. He was accused to have entered Benin Republic illegally as well as alleged planned intent to cause social unrest in Benin Republic.
Benin Republic attained its full independence on August 1, 1960, some months before Nigeria’s independence on October 1, 1960.
The two West African countries are strategic economic partners as traders from both countries transact businesses fluidly at the Seme-Badagry corridor, which has become one of the most popular borders for trans-regional economic exchanges.
Due to proximity, the two countries also share certain similarities like culture, religion and tribe. Some cross-marriages have also occurred between citizens of both countries.