23-year old Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian trader based in Bondoukou, Cote d’Ivoire, was reportedly sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment after a theft case she reported to the police was allegedly turned against her.
Nigerians are calling on the ministry of foreign affairs and the Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) to intervene.
Itunu had been in prison since 2019 after she refused to grant the request of a divisional police officer to drop the case of theft.
A Tweeter commentator, David Hundeyin, who shared Babalola’s story, explained that the victim’s flat was burgled and items worth over N300,000 stolen, adding that she reported the matter to the police and later travelled to Nigeria to see her sick mother.
However, upon Babalola’s return to Ivory Coast, she was notified that the thief had been caught.
“The thief turned out to be a 14-year-old boy who lived nearby. His embarrassed dad apologised and admitted that his son was a habitual thief. The items had already been sold.
“Itunu (Babalola) reported this to the police, who told her to return on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. The appointment held on Wednesday, November 6. There, she says the DPO informed her that the suspect was his nephew. He then offered her a settlement worth roughly N100,000 to drop the case.“
Over the years the Diaspora Commission have had to intervene on illegal arrest and detention of Nigerians abroad. Itunu Babalola’s case is one of many thousands who may be wasting away in foreign prisons. By the way, the home front is still stuck with hundreds of awaiting trials.