Itunu Babalola: FG Breaks Silence On Death Of Nigerian In Cote D’ivoire
The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM has reacted to the death of a Nigerian, Itunu Babalola, in Cote D’Ivoire.
The Oyo State indigene is said to have been handed twenty years jail term in Ivory Coast over a crime she reportedly did not commit.
Babalola was, however, reported dead on Sunday, November 15, 2021. She was said to have suffered an infection while in prison.
Naija News understands that the death of the 21-year-old stirred outrage on and off social media as Nigerians registered their individual displeasures, accusing the federal government of neglecting the young lady.
An investigative journalist, David Hundeyin, who is said to have notified NIDCOM of the girl’s situation earlier, took to social media on Sunday night to report that she is dead.
The journalist revealed a series of steps he had taken to ensure that Babalola is freed from the wrong declaration. Hundeyin explained that he had written several petitions, engaged the Nigerian government in every way possible to secure Babalola’s freedom, all, however, fell to nought according to him.
Confirming Babalola’s death on Twitter, Hundeyin wrote: “I just received a message from Cote d’Ivoire about Itunu Babalola. She is still in prison in Abidjan where she has contracted a serious infection and apparently she is dying.
“All those promises by NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri, OYSG etc – audio. She’s finally dying. Well done to the Nigerian government. Well done to NIDCOM and everyone responsible for this another young Nigerian is biting the dust. Round of applause for all of you.
“Write a federal petition, do a thread with 15,000 retweets, engage with government, do an investigative story. Even travelled illegally to Cote d’Ivoire in a fucking canoe to gather facts.
“Nothing we have not done to try to save this girl’s life but we come from Nigeria. Eight months of effort, 8 months of “Uncle David God bless you, eight months of hoping for Nigeria to prove me wrong FOR ONCE.
“It’s all over Itunu is dead. She died this night, just confirmed.”
However, NIDCOM Chairman, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in a statement on Monday lamented the death of the 21- year old, describing it as a tragic blow.
Demanding the full autopsy of the deceased, Dabiri-Erewa said it was unfortunate that the young lady died at a time when the Nigerian mission in Cote D’ivoire had paid and engaged the services of a lawyer to handle Itunnu’s appeal case.
She said: “Unfortunately, Itunnu died abruptly while all hands were on deck to seek both legal and diplomatic intervention for her by Nigeria.”
Abike assured that Itunu’s death will not stop the appeal in court.
The NIDCOM chairman’s statement read: “Itunnu was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for an offence she did not apparently commit.
“She was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment while the Nigerian mission in Cote d’Ivoire supported by the Nigerian community, got her a lawyer, paid part payment of legal fees for the lawyer, to appeal the judgment, while at the same time seeking diplomatic intervention from the Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The staff of the Nigeria mission had also visited Itunu in prison, a distance of over four hours from Abidjan.”
Dabiri-Erewa insists that the fees for Babalola’s treatment had been paid by the Nigerian mission through the lawyer whose services were engaged by the mission.
She maintained that Babalola’s death will not halt the appeal in court in order to vindicate her of the charges against her.