A23-year-old Nigerian lady, who was wrongfully incarcerated in Cote D’lvoire, Itunu Babalola, is dead.
This was made known by investigative journalist, David Hundeyin on Sunday night in a thread on his Twitter page
According to him, the young lady contracted an infection in prison which led to her death on Sunday night. Videos attached to the thread showed Babalola writhing in pain on the hospital bed after which she gave up the ghost.
In a series of tweets, David Hundeyin 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 (Oyo State Government) etc – audio.
“She’s finally dying. She’s finally dying. Well done to the Nigerian government. Well done to NIDCOM (Nigerians in Diaspora Commission) 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 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.”
UGAMATV had on March 15 reported that Babalola, who was based in Bondoukou, Cote D’Ivoire was rotting in a detention camp for refusing to accept police “settlement” of N100,000 for the crime of burglary committed in her house.
The Ivorian police had allegedly threatened and resolved to deal with Itunu Babalola who reported the theft to them in October 2019, but the suspected burglar was said to be a top police officer’s close relative.
It was gathered that instead of charging the suspected burglar to court, the police perfected a plot to bribe Babalola to collect N100,000 for her stolen items, which she refused.
UGAMATV gathered 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.
Hundeyin, who followed the case, stated that the woman had come to Nigeria to check on her sick mother in September 2019 when her house in Cote D’Ivoire was burgled.
Concerned Nigerians had called on the government to intervene in Babalola’s case and ensure her release from detention in the West African country.
The Nigerian Government, through NIDCOM and the Nigerian Mission in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire had said its investigation into the case of Itunu Babalola showed that she was innocent and was framed up.
The government added that the former prosecutor in Cote D’Ivoire in collaboration with the police twisted the case against Babalola and accused the woman of human trafficking, leading to her conviction for 10 years, out of which she had unjustly served two years.
In a release by Gabriel Odu, of the NIDCOM’s Media, Public Relations and Protocols Unit, the Nigerian government said it would move to rescue Babalola having established that she was framed up by the Ivorian government.
The government said, “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.”