July 3, 2022

FG Condemns Sudden Death of Nigerian Woman Detainee in Côte d’Ivoire

….As Abike Dabiri Vows to Seek Justice for the Deceased, even in Death

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By Shola Akingboye, 16 November 2021

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it received with dismay, news of the unfortunate demise of a Nigerian woman standing trial in Côte d’Ivoire, one Miss Becky Paul, also known as Itunu Babalola, at the Military Hospital in Abidjan, on Sunday, 14th November 2021.

According to a statement signed by the Spokesperson of the Ministry, Esther Sunsuwa (Mrs), she said a report from the Nigerian Mission in Abidjan indicates that Miss Babalola had been diagnosed with diabetes and went into a diabetic coma on Friday, 12th November 2021.

“It would be recalled that the deceased was sentenced to a ten-year prison term, following an allegation of human trafficking.

“Consequently, the Nigerian Embassy in Abidjan had paid her a consular visit to ascertain the state of her well-being and explore options for an appeal. 

“The Mission eventually obtained legal representation for Miss Babalola to appeal the judgment, on her behalf, as she had vehemently and unwaveringly maintained her innocence. The Embassy was awaiting the commencement of the appeal process at the Court of Appeal in Abidjan, at the time of her untimely death. 
“The Ministry extends its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased on this unfortunate turn of events.  

“The Ministry wishes to assure that the Federal Government has communicated to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire its strong displeasure at this unfortunate and regrettable incident and will demand a full and comprehensive investigation of all the circumstances leading to her tragic demise.” The state reads.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri Erewa has said the Commission is taking the matter beyond the death of Itunu for justice.

While fielded questions from journalists on a live TV show, ‘Your View on TVC’ Tuesday morning, Erewa regretted that the arrest, detention, prosecution and eventual sentence to 10 years imprisonment was not reported to the Commission under her watch until the last minute of her death, according to her.

While admonished Nigerians living abroad to always carries their home country along anytime they find themselves in trouble, she revealed that the matter relating to the death of the Nigerian has been taken to INTERPOL, to ascertain the levels of culpability of the security operatives in Abidjan, first on the indictment of the late Itunu on the crime she was accused of, likewise, the circumstances leading to her death.

Erewa added that an arrangement is underway to give the late Itunu a befitting burial while the government pursues justice for the deceased.


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