A Nigerian living in Abidjan, Itunu Babalola, who has been incarcerated in Côte D’Ivoire for two years on charges of human trafficking was wrongly jailed, the Nigerian government said it has found.
A statement released by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission on Twitter said Nigerian authorities were convinced about Ms Babalolaʼs innocence “following painstaking investigations.”
NIGERIAN WRONGFULLY INCACERATED IN COTE D’IVOIRE’S PRISON, ITUNU BABALOLA: FACTS OF THE MATTER.
ABUJA, MARCH 19, 2021.
Following painstaking investigations by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the Nigeria Mission in Abidjan, Cote D’ivoire,#Thread pic.twitter.com/w3aI9QZrnl
— Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (@nidcom_gov) March 19, 2021
The statement said the Charge D’Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Côte D’Ivoire, Mohammed Gana, has sent officials of the mission to Bondoukou, a city about 420 km northeast of capital Abidjan where Ms Babalola is being held.
“It is now confirmed that Itunu Babalola, was wrongfully charged and incarcerated for a crime she did not commit,” the statement said.
The commission said Ms Babalola, whose family is from Oyo State, had lived in Bondoukou, Côte D’Ivoire, for a long time before she “got entangled in a legal battle when she reported the burglary of her house to the police.”
The commission said she was convicted after the former prosecutor allegedly connived with the police to “twist the case.”
Ms Babalola was convicted for human trafficking and sentenced to 20 years in jail, before it was commuted to 10 years.
She has now served two years out of the term.
But the Nigerian government has said it is determined to press for retrial to “prove the innocence of Itunu Babalola at the court of appeal” as plans “are underway to engage the services of a legal luminary.”
“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.”
The Nigerian government also said efforts made to secure her bail have not been fulfilled because only the court can grant the request since she had already been convicted.