Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian woman who died in an Ivorian prison after being wrongly detained, was buried in Ibadan, Oyo state.
Babalola’s body was buried at Sango Cemetery at 11.25am on Saturday. She was buried in the presence of Diaspora Council officials sent by Chairman Abike Dabiri-Erewa. The body of the deceased arrived at Murtala Mohamed International Airport in Lagos via Air Ivory Coast at 11pm on Friday and was taken to Oyo state. Babalola reportedly passed away on November 14, 2021, with Nigerians expressing deep outrage over her death on social media.
According to reports, the 21-year-old Babalola is from Oyo state and is a businessman in Bondoukou, Côte d’Ivoire. In September 2019, her home was broken into by an Ivorian. She reported the incident to the police, but the DSB told her the suspect was his nephew. He reportedly offered her a settlement worth around N100,000 to dismiss the case, which was less than the stolen items worth N300,000.
Babalola was subsequently arrested for refusing to settle, charged with human trafficking and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
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A reporter, David Hundeyin, shared Babalola’s story on Twitter in March 2021, and NIDCOM said it was working to prove Babalola’s innocence.
Dabiri-Erewa confirmed the woman had been charged and imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. However, many Nigerians were shocked on November 14, 2021, when Hundeyin, who had been following the case, kept updating that Babalola had contracted the virus in a Côte d’Ivoire prison.
Eight months after NIDCOM pledged to ensure justice was served and the women’s freedoms were guaranteed, Barbarola remained behind bars in the French-speaking West African country, disappointing some. In plea, Dabiri-Erewa blamed Babalola and said she failed to report her plight to the Nigerian Commission in Côte d’Ivoire in time after serving two years of her sentence.
“She didn’t inform the mission process. She spent two years in prison before her father asked for help. It might have been different when she had problems with the burglars and the police changing the case and reporting to the mission, Many people found the comment offensive, the former House member said.