Itunu Babalola: FG, family reject autopsy, demand justice

The federal government and the family of the late Itunu Babalola, the Nigerian lady who died in Côte d’Ivoire after she was wrongly jailed, have rejected the autopsy on the cause of her death.

The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and the father of the deceased, Mr Emmanuel Babalola, yesterday gave this position at a meeting at the NiDCOM office in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that 24-year-old Itunu from Oyo State reportedly died on November 14 and Nigerians took to social media to express their angst over her death.

Itunu 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 said to have been charged to court and the prosecutor, in collaboration with the police, allegedly compromised the case and accused her of human trafficking.

Itunu was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison which was later reduced to 10 years, but she died two years into her jail term.

Speaking, Dabiri-Erewa pointed out that the autopsy left so many questions unanswered.

“I am not a doctor but when I looked at the autopsy report itself, “Sepsis Complicated by Acute Respiratory Distress”, that is not acceptable even to me without being a doctor and I don’t think that should be acceptable.

“This autopsy, even to me does not appear acceptable. So, I hope that we would not let the case go like that. We are not going to relent. That police officer must be questioned.

“I am sure the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Geoffrey Onyeama) will take the next necessary steps to demand from Cote d’Ivoire a lot more information than they have given about what happened to Itunu’s case.”

Dabiri-Erewa stressed the need for African countries to treat one another with respect, decency and dignity.

Earlier, Babalola, who commended the federal government’s efforts to get her late daughter released from the prison before she died, said he was not satisfied with the autopsy.

Babalola said that doctors informed him that what the Ivorian government claimed killed his daughter could not have killed her within 24 hours.

He called on the foreign affairs minister and the National Assembly to intervene in the case.

NAN reports that Dabiri-Erewa presented a cheque of an undisclosed amount to Babalola as support from NiDCOM to the family. (NAN)

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