The Federal Government of Nigeria has ordered a full investigation into the death of a 23-year-old lady, Itunu Babalola, who was jailed on false charges in Cote d’Ivoire.
The FG move follows a social media campaign tagged #JusticeForItunu, calling on the Nigerian Government to ensure her release from prison as the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, promised to wade into the case.
Babalola who died on Sunday after suffering from diabetes in the prison was a trader based in Bondoukou, Cote d’Ivoire sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after a theft case she reported to the police was turned against her.
According to the report, the deceased had been in prison since 2019 after she refused to grant the request of a Divisional Police Officer to drop the case. However, she fell ill and was rushed to the hospital on Thursday, November 11.
A journalist, David Hundeyin, who shared Babalola’s story on Twitter, explained that the victim’s flat was burgled and items worth over N300,000 stolen, adding that she reported the matter to the police and later travelled to Nigeria to see her sick mother.
However, upon Babalola’s return to the West African country, she was notified that the thief had been caught, but was later accused of human trafficking.
Hundeyin, who noted that Babalola spent her savings in trying to clear her name, said she attempted suicide twice.
Speaking in a series of tweets while announcing the death of Itunu, he said, “I have 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
“She’s finally dying. She’s so far gone that the guy who reached out was only asking for her parents’ contact details, presumably to inform them about their soon-to-be-dead daughter’s condition.
“Before slipping into unconsciousness, she showed him my name and he found me on Facebook. I think now that she’s finally going to die, Nigeria can rest. @cbngov_akin1, @abikedabiri thank you and God bless all of you with your “help” that has taken 8 months and achieved nothing. Itunu is going home to rest at last. Freedom from this useless continent.
“Itunu is dead. She died this night. Just confirmed.”
Reacting to the death of the young lady, Dabiri-Erewa in a statement issued on Monday by the commission’s Head of Media, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, titled, ‘Death of a Nigerian in Cote D’ivoire: FG demands full investigation,’ lamented that Babalola passed away abruptly while efforts were ongoing to seek both legal and diplomatic interventions for her.
NiDcOM Boss described the death as a tragic blow “at a time the Nigerian mission in Côte D’Ivoire had paid and engaged the services of a lawyer to handle Itunnu’s appeal case