By Uche Amunike
The Buhari-led government has reacted to Itunu Babalola’s death which came as a shock after she was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Ivory Coast for allegedly being involved in human trafficking.
Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in a statement released and signed by her, announced that the Nigerian government has demanded that a full autopsy is done, so as to find out what caused Itunu Babalola’s death.
She described Itunu Babalola’s death as tragic, especially at a time when the Nigerian Mission in Ivory Coast had paid and engaged the services of a lawyer to handle her appeal case, adding that she was only informed of her death on Monday afternoon.
She explained that Itunu did not commit the offence she was convicted for. According to her, Itunu reportedly accused an ivorian of stealing from her at her residence and then, mysteriously filed a case against him. However, because he happened to be related to an Ivorian policeman, he tried to convince Itunu to drop the case, but she refused and went ahead to file charges against him and allegedly used another name to file the case. Surprisingly the robbery case which she filed mysteriously turned out to be a case of human trafficking against her. She was eventually sent to 20 years imprisonment for charges of human trafficking.
Dabiri Erewa reiterated that the Nigerian mission in Cote d’Ivoire with the support of the Nigerian community got Itunu a lawyer, not only to appeal the judgement but also to seek diplomatic intervention from the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Staff members of the Nigerian mission also paid a visit to her while in prison even though the distance was over 4 hours from Abidjan.
She added that Itunu reportedly had complications from diabetes which made the Nigerian mission rush her to the hospital where she died after a few days.
Abike Dabiri promised that Itunu’s death will not stop the appeal in court in order to see that she is vindicated of the charges against her.
Itunu, who hails from oyo state was a trader based in Bondoukou, Cote d’Ivoire.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have lashed out to the Federal government for being negligent and careless about the rights of citizens, in and outside the country.
Below are reactions from Nigerians pulled from their Twitter accounts concerning Itunu Babalola’s death:
@aproko_doctor: ‘What is painful about Itunu’s death is that the people who did nothing to secure her release will wake up iron their suits and go to work like nothing happened. No regard for life.”
@Elkrosmediahub: “Not like it isn’t right to blame Abike Dabiri (Chairman of the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission), for the death of Itunnu, who was wrongfully accused of human trafficking in Cote D’voire, but why is the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama always exempted? Pouting facePouting face’.
@DrOlufunmilayo: ‘This same govt that abandoned Itunu to die will suddenly arrange and pay huge money to transport her corpse home. Money they never had to save her from jail. Energy they never had to fight for her. Money they never had to treat her. A lunatic country led by heartless animals.’