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Itunu Babalola’s death: FG demands autopsy

The Federal government has demanded a full investigation into the sudden and mysterious death of Ìtùnú Babalola, a Nigerian sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Ivory Coast for alleged human trafficking.

A statement signed by the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) Abike Dabiri-Erewa demanded an immediate autopsy, stating that Ms Babalola’s case was drawn to the attention of NIDCOM about 5 months ago.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa described the death of the Nigerian national as a tragic blow, at a time the country’s mission in Ivory Coast had engaged the services of a lawyer to handle her appeal.

the NIDCOM chairman said it was regrettable that Ms Babalola died abruptly while all hands were on deck to seek both legal and diplomatic intervention for her.

Ms Babalola was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for an offense she did not apparently commit because she accused an Ivorian of a robbery at her residence and insisted on filing a case against him, the statement said.

The accused who happens to be related to an Ivorian policeman, demanded that she drop the case, but she refused.

According to the NIDCOM statement, the deceased went ahead to file charges against the Ivorian man, allegedly using a different name to file the suit. Somehow, the robbery case which she filed mysteriously turned into a case of human trafficking against her.

She was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment while the Nigerian mission in Ivory Coast, supported by the Nigerian community, got her a lawyer, and settled a part of her legal fees, in order to enable her appeal the judgment, while at the same time seeking diplomatic intervention from the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While the appeal was ongoing, Ms Babalola was said to have had complications from diabetes and was rushed to the hospital.

The Nigerian mission in Abidjan had undertaken to pay her medical bills through the lawyer it had engaged on her behalf; But Ms Babalola died suddenly after a few days on admission at the Hospital.

Reporting by Hamza Alkali; editing by Muzha Kucha