By Ayo Dada
Abike Kafayat Oluwatoyin Dabiri-Erewa former member of the Nigeria Federal House of Representatives representing Ikorodu Constituency in Lagos State, now the incumbent Chairman/CEO of Nigerian in Diaspora Commission is a disgrace to public service and to Nigeria as a whole like many of her likes in high, powerful and important positions they occupy.
We all know, and or remember, Itunu Babalola, the Nigerian young lady that was wrongfully incarcerated in Côte d’Ivoire on charges of human trafficking, who later died in Côte d’Ivoire prison.
Itunu Babalola reportedly 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 charged to court on trumped up charges of human trafficking by a prosecutor in collaboration with Côte d’Ivoire police, and found guilty of the charges. Itunu was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The sentence was later reduced to 10 years.
On March 14, 2021, David Hundeyin, a journalist, had posted Babalola’s story on Twitter. The post went viral and eventually gained the attention of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).
The Nigerian authorities were aware of Itunu’s situation which was confirmed at the time by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, NIDCOM chief executive officer, in a statement, saying the commission was doing all it could to secure the release of Babalola.
On Sunday, however, Hundeyin, who had been following the case, gave updates on Twitter that Babalola had contracted an infection in prison and was dying.
On November 15, Sahara Reporters twitted that the Nigerian government was silent about the travails of the unfortunate lady.
In a later tweet by David Hundeyin, he announced the unfortunate death of Itunu Babalola in a Cote d’Ivoire prison.
It is quite obvious that nothing much was done by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the chairman/CEO of Nigerian in Diaspora Commission to secure the release of this Nigerian citizen who was wrongfully, and unjustly convicted for a crime she did not commit, yet the Nigerian government, represented by Dabiri, under whose purview it was to do so, ignored the poor lady’s cries for help until she died in a Côte d’Ivoire prison.
All Dabiri-Erewa did, it seems, was to tweet that Itunu Bablola was in safe hands, that the Nigerian foreign affairs ministry were on ground in Abidjan to save this her.
It is quite sad and pathetic that the lives of Nigerian means nothing to this terrible administration led by terribly evil hearts and minds. From the north to the south, and from the east to the west, the lives and properties on the masses of Nigeria are worthless to these so-called leaders.
Many Nigerians asks frustratingly and sarcastically that, if Nigerian leaders cannot secure the lives of it’s citizens within the country, why should we expect them to secure the life of one lady in a foreign land? They all feel helpless. This is yet another indictment on the clueless and the incompetent government being run by Mr. Buhari.
If Nigeria had a capable president in power, the president should have demanded a written explanation from Mrs. Dabiri-Arewa on the account of what happened to the case of Itunu Babalola, her court case, why she was jailed? Who were the collaborators in the phantom charges? How Itunu contracted the disease that killed her? What hospital treatment was given to her? When did Dabiri-Erewa find out about the case? what did she do about it? And what steps did she take to resolve Itunu’s case? Did she inform the minister of internal affairs in Côte d’Ivoire? If so, what was their response? And other relevant questions Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa needs to answer.
David Hundeyin and Abike Dabiri-Erewa got into a heated debate on a Lagos radio talk show, LAGOS TALKS, over the death of the Nigerian woman, Itunu, wrongly jailed in Côte d’Ivoire
The video shows Ms. Abike’s reaction when Hundeyin called in to the show to discuss Itunu’s death.
David asked questions about what was done by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) to help Itunu after her case was made public
Abike, who is the Chairperson of NIDCOM, responded, explaining efforts made to get Itunu out of jail before she sadly died in detention.
However, David wasn’t satisfied with her answer and tried to ask further question. Ms. Abike kept talking over David as she was fumbling to find answers to David’s questions, David then expressed his disapproval, saying: “Will you stop talking over me?”
Instead of Abike Dabiri-Erewa taking time to aswer the questions satisfactorily or diplomatically, she told the radio host, to shut down a question from David Hundeyin, the investigating journalist who was the first to break the news/story of Itunu Babalola to Nigerians, and the one that has been following the story ever since. (Watch the video above) Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa is seen in the video making hands and face gestures to the host not to take the question from David Hundeyin when he called in again to ask Dabiri-Erewa further questions, which unfortunately the radio host obliged to.
Itunu Babalola, a 21-year-old Nigerian businesswoman was jailed in Ivory Coast after her house was burgled. She had reported the theft to the police and a suspect was caught. However, a police officer in Côte d’Ivoire, who is related to the suspect fingered in the robbery, allegedly tried to get Itunu to drop the case and allegedly offered her money, when she refused to drop the case, she was accused of human trafficking and was charged to court.
She was jailed for 20 years over a crime she didn’t commit. Ms. Abike Dabiri-Erewa claimed that by the time her case was made public earlier this year, she had already spent 2 years in jail.
Itunu was said to have had complications from diabetes and was rushed to a hospital where she gave up the ghost.
Mr. Buhari himself, or at least the Nigerian Federal Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, should have contacted the Embassy of Côte d’Ivoire in Nigeria, tasking them to get to the bottom of the matter, punish the perpetrators of this dastardly act, and financially compensate Itunu Babalola’s family, failing which the Nigerian government will consider taking economic, military, and or, other appropriate actions against their country.
The way this poor girl was left to die in a foreign prison is callous, shameful and embarrassing, Mrs. Dabiri-Arewa and Ogbeni Aregbesola have a case to answer and deserve to be called out for their actions, and or, inactions which caused the death of the girl.
What would it have taken Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa to continue to take questions on such an important case? It should have been an opportunity for her to put a human face to a botched, and a careless job the federal government did. She could have said that, “we are sorry for what happened to Itunu, what happened to her was unfortunate, we are working with the authorities in Côte d’Ivoire, who have commenced an investigation into what happened to Itunu, we will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of the case and bring every culprit to book. We will also ensure that Itunu’s family are adequately compensated for the injustice against her that led to her death”. To be honest, this should be the action of the federal government of Nigeria hitherto.
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