The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) on Friday confirmed that a Nigerian woman Itunu Babalola is in prison in Côte d’Ivoire after she was wrongfully accused of theft.
Journalist David Hundeyin called attention to Ms Babalola’s plight on Monday via Twitter.
A statement signed by a spokesman of the commission Gabriel Odu and released on Twitter said the police allegedly colluded with the prosecutor to add human trafficking to the case.
The statement reads: “Following painstaking investigations by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the Nigeria Mission in Abidjan, Cote D’ivoire, it is now confirmed that Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian living in Abidjan was wrongfully charged and incarcerated for a crime she did not commit.
“According to the Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa the Charge D’Affaires of the Nigerian Mission inCôte D’Ivoire, Mr Mohammed Gana, sent officials of the mission to Bondoukou, a city eight hours outside Abidjan when the case was brought to his attention.
“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 offense she did not commit.
“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. Reports also allegedly indicate that the former prosecutor in collaboration with the police twisted the case and accused Itunu Babalolo of human trafficking hence her conviction for 20yrs although the sentence was reduced to 10yrs from which she Has served 2yrs so far. Itunu Babalola whose family is from Oyo State, Nigeria has been living in Bondoukou, Cote d’ivoire for a long time but got entangled in a legal battle when she reported the burglary of her house to the Police.
“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.”