Nigeria’s Federal Government has demanded a full autopsy on Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Côte Divoire for alleged human trafficking, who suddenly and mysteriously died in prison.
This demand for the autopsy was contained in a statement signed by the Chairman Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa and released by the Commission’s Head of Media, Abdur-Rahman Balogun on Monday.
Dabiri-Erewa, while stating that the attention of NIDCOM was drawn to Itunnu’s case about five months ago, described her death as a tragic blow, at a time the Nigerian mission in Côte Divoire had paid and engaged the services of a lawyer to handle Itunnu’s appeal case.
She said: “Unfortunately, Itunnu died abruptly while all hands were on deck to seek both legal and diplomatic intervention for her by Nigeria.”
Itunnu was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for an offence she did not apparently commit.
She had accused an Ivorian of robbery at her residence and insisted on filing a case against him.
She had alleged that the accused, who is related to an Ivorian police man, asked her to drop the case, but she refused.
She went ahead to file charges against him and allegedly used a different name ( not her real name ) to file the case and somehow a case of robbery which she filed mysteriously turned to a case of human trafficking against her.
She was subsequently sentenced to 20 years imprisonment while the Nigerian mission in Cote Divoire supported by the Nigerian community, got her a lawyer, paid part payment of legal fees for the lawyer, to appeal the judgment, while at the same time seeking diplomatic intervention from the Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The staff of the Nigeria mission had also visited Itunu in prison, a distance of over four hours from Abidjan.
While the appeal case was on , Itunu was said to have complications from diabetes and was rushed to the hospital.
The fees for the treatment, was said to have been paid by the Nigerian mission through the lawyer whose services were engaged by the mission, unfortunately, she died suddenly after a few days of admission at the Hospital.
Dabiri-Erewa however assured that: “Her death, will however, not stop the appeal in court in order to vindicate her of the charges against her.”
Michael Olugbode in Abuja