23-year-old Nigerian lady, Itunu Babalola, who was wrongfully convicted in Cote D’lvoire on charges of human trafficking, has reportedly died in prison.
It was gathered that Babalola from Oyo State had come to Nigeria to check on her sick mother in September 2019 when her house was burgled in Bondoukou, Cote d’Ivoire.
When she came back to Cote d’Ivoire and reported to the police that her house had been burgled, the DPO reportedy informed her that the suspect was his nephew.
It was gathered that the police DPO subsequently offered Babalola a settlement worth N100,000 to drop the case, but she rejected the amount which was lesser than the N300,000 worth of stolen effects.
It was learnt that when the police authorities saw that she was adamant and insisting on getting justice, they prepared trumped-up charges against her and sent her to detention.
Babalola was said to have been charged to court and the prosecutor in collaboration with the police allegedly compromised the case and accused her of human trafficking.
Babalola was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. But the sentence was later reduced to 10 years, out of which she had unjustly served two years.
On March 14, an investigative journalist, David Hundeyin posted Babalola’s story on Twitter and the post eventually gained the attention of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the NIDCOM chief executive officer, had in a statement at the time confirmed that Babalola was charged and incarcerated for a crime she didn’t commit, adding that the commission was doing all it can to secure her release.
Itunu Babalola Wrongfully Charged And Convicted
The statement reads, “Following painstaking investigations by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the Nigeria Mission in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, it is now confirmed that Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian living in Abidjan was wrongfully charged and incarcerated for a crime she did not commit.
“According to the Chairman of the NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Charge D’Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Côte D’Ivoire, Mr Mohammed Gana, sent officials of the mission to Bondoukou, a city eight hours outside Abidjan when the case was brought to his attention.
“Plans are underway to engage the services of a legal Luminary to prove the innocence of Itunu Babalola at the Court of Appeal after the accused had spent two years out of a ten-year jail term for an offense she did not commit.
“Reports indicate that the new Prosecutor assigned to the case has given assurances of a fair and unbiased review and retrial of the case to secure the release of Itunu Babalola.
“Reports also allegedly indicate that the former prosecutor in collaboration with the police twisted the case and accused Itunu Babalola of human trafficking hence her conviction for 20 years although the sentence was reduced to 10 years from which she has served two years.
“On efforts made to secure her bail, the prosecutor said it is only the Court that can grant her bail as she has already been convicted. We will continue to monitor the case as it unfolds.”
Itunu Babalola Dies In Côte d’Ivoire prison
However, many Nigerians were shocked on Sunday night when Hundeyin, who had been following the case, gave updates on Twitter that Babalola’s contracted an infection in the Ivorian prison and was dying.
The journalist lamented Babalola still remained behind bars in Cote d’Ivoire eight months after NIDCOM promised to ensure justice was served on the matter and secure the lady’s freedom.
Hundeyin announced hours later that the young lady gave up the ghost.
He wrote, “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 – audio. She’s finally dying.”
“Itunu is dead. She died this night. Just confirmed. 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.
“Nigeria does absolutely nothing for the citizens, especially southerners but expects the citizens to love the country and uphold some magical patriotism. RIP Itunu. So sorry to her family.
“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.”
KanyiDaily had also reported how Prophetess Edna Worleru died two days after being sentenced to life imprisonment for murder in Rivers.