Why Nigeria Could Not Save Itunu From Dying In Cote d’Ivoire Prison – NiDCOM
Itunu Babalola, the young girl from Oyo State who recently died in a Cote d’Ivoire prison, would not have gone through such trauma if her family had informed Nigeria’s diplomatic mission in the country at the right time, according to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).
The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed this on Arise Television program ‘Morning Show’ on Friday.
Reports of Itunu’s demise went viral on Monday and Nigerians took to Twitter to vent their anger on the federal government for allegedly abandoning her to her fate.
THE WHISTLER reported that the NIDCOM in conjunction with the Nigeria Mission in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, had on March 19, 2021 confirmed that Babalola was wrongfully convicted and held in a prison in that country after she was said to have reported a theft incident at her apartment to the country’s police in 2019.
Dabiri-Erewa, while condoling with her family, added that NiDCOM and Nigeria’s diplomatic mission in the country was not immediately informed about the development when it started.
She said the appropriate authority only got to know about it after she had spent two years in jail.
“First and foremost, she did not inform the mission about the trial. She has spent two years in jail, then her father cried out for help and reached us and then one or two stories in the media, and that was it.
“The first thing is, perhaps when she had issues with the burglar and the police man that was treating the case, if she had reported at the mission, maybe, it would have been a different story,” she said.
Dabiri-Erewa also absorbed Nigeria’s diplomatic mission of negligence as alleged in some sections of online platforms.
She claimed that agents of government kept working to ensure her release but for the sickness that unfortunately took her life.
“I think the first thing we did, was to get money together, raise the first set of fees to pay the lawyer to even begin the case and the money was raised within the Nigerian community and the Nigerian mission in Abdijan.
“In fact, the prosecutor made it clear that this girl should not be in jail. The main thing was how to transfer the case from where it was in the hinterland to Abidjan. And we succeeded in transferring the case to Abidjan and an appeal was to begin.
“Whatever the case, she was not involved in human trafficking, “ she said.
The NIDCOM chairman also admitted that the mission’s effort in foreign land is limited due to poor funding.
“Unfortunately, that is the way it is. The missions are not properly funded and its an open secret. Even the NiDCOM is not properly funded, it gets N8 million a month. That is the reality of the situation,” she said.
The Nigerian Embassy in Abidjan has informed the host country that it is displeased with the development.
It has also demanded an autospy to unravel the true circumstances of her death.