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ICYMI: NIDCOM takes up case of Nigerian ‘wrongfully jailed’ in Côte d’Ivoire

ICYMI: NIDCOM takes up case of Nigerian ‘wrongfully jailed’ in Côte d’Ivoire
March 20
17:37 2021

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) says it is making efforts to secure the release of Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian who has been incarcerated in Côte d’Ivoire for two years on charges of human trafficking.

On March 14, David Hundeyin, a journalist, had posted Babalola’s story on Twitter. The post went viral and eventually gained the attention of NIDCOM.

Giving an update on the case on Friday, the commission said it has carried out “painstaking investigations” to get the facts of the case.

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“It is now confirmed that Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian living in Abidjan was wrongfully charged and incarcerated for a crime she did not commit,” the statement read.

According to the commission, Babalola got entangled in a legal battle when she reported to the police that her house in Bondoukou, Cote d’Ivoire, had been burgled.

She was said to have been charged to court and the prosecutor in collaboration with the police allegedly twisted the case and accused her of human trafficking.

Babalola was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The sentence was later reduced to 10 years.

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Abike Dabiri-Erewa, NIDCOM’s chief executive officer, said Mohammed Gana, the charge d’affaires of the Nigerian mission in Côte d’Ivoire, has sent officials to Bondoukou to look into the matter.

“Plans are underway to engage the services of a legal luminary to prove the innocence of Itunu Babalola at the court of appeal after the accused had spent two years out of a ten-year jail term for an offence she did not commit,” Dabiri-Erewa said.

“Reports indicate that the new prosecutor assigned to the case has given assurances of a fair and unbiased review and retrial of the case to secure the release of Itunu Babalola.

“On efforts made to secure her bail, the prosecutor said it is only the court that can grant her bail as she has already been convicted.

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“We will continue to monitor the case as it unfolds.”

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