Nigeria's Babalola who died in Cote D’Ivoire prison buried in Ibadan


Ms Itunu Babalola

The remains of Ms Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian lady who died in Cote D’Ivoire prison recently, were on Saturday laid to rest amidst tears by friends and relations at the Sango Cemetery, Ibadan.

The late Babalola, popularly known as, Becky Paul, was reported to have been sentenced for offence she did not commit.

Speaking during the funeral, Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Spokesman for Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), said that the Federal Government would ensure justice for the deceased whether alive or in death.

Balogun, who led the Federal Government delegation, said: “It is a sad moment for the family of Itunu and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is part of the Federal Government and citizens’ diplomacy.

“Federal Government has been involved in this matter since the story broke out. The lady was wrongfully accused of something she didn’t do.

“She was jailed and the Federal Government intervened, but we got to know very late,” he said.

Balogun, also Head of Media, Public Relations and Protocols NIDCOM, said that the Federal Government’s intervention was through the country’s mission in Côte D’Ivoire and got a lawyer for her.

He said that the lawyer appealed against the case in court and her sentences was reduced from 20 years to 10 years.

According to him, “we were not satisfied because we knew she didn’t do what she was alleged of.

We were pressing for justice until she was suddenly taken away from City to Interland so that they can perfect her justice.

“Unfortunately, we heard she developed complications in prison and within few days, she passed on when we were close to getting justice for her.”

Balogun said that the Federal Government would still press further to get justice for Itunu, whether alive or in death.

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He said that government had pressed for changes and demanded for autopsy which they had carried out.

“Based on this, the lawyer who appealed the case is pressing on to ensure justice for Itunu.

“Since she was the breadwinner of the family, government will not leave the family alone. We will assist the family to the best of our ability,” he said.

Also, Mr Olaolu Babalola, the elder brother of the deceased, told newsmen after the interment that the family would pursue justice for his late sister.

Babalola said that the family was aware that Itunu knew nothing about the allegations levelled against her.

Earlier, in his sermon, the Most Superior Evang. Daniel Otakoya of Celestial Church of Christ, Agbowo Parish, Ibadan, said the death of Itunu could be a breakthrough for Nigeria as a nation.

Otakoya urged Nigerians to keep praying for the country rather than cursing the nation.

He urged well-to-do Nigerians to learn from the death of Itunu, who was brought back to the country after her death in Diaspora.

Itunu’s corpse was brought in via Air Cote D’Ivoire around 11.00 p.m on Friday and was received by the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerians in Diaspora Commission at the Muritala Muhammad international Airport, Lagos.

It was later accompanied to Ibadan by staff of NIDCOM for the service of songs and interment.

After the interment, Balogun led the team on a condolence visit to Itunu’s father, Mr Ebenezer Babalola, at his University of Ibadan (UI)’s residence.

Letters and messages of condolences were presented, on behalf of the Federal Government, Nigerian Embassy in Cote d’Ivoire and Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, NIDCOM, to Babalola

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