•We will ensure justice, says Dabiri-Erewa
The Federal Government and the family of Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian lady who recently died in Cote d’Ivoire’s Prison, have rejected the result of autopsy conducted on her body by the country’s authorities.
Father of the deceased, Mr. Emmanuel Babalola, his wife Adebukola, and Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) Chairperson, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, stated this yesterday at a meeting at the NiDCOM office in Lagos.
Babalola, who spoke with reporters while on a thank-you-visit to Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa, said the family was demanding justice and a thorough investigation into the cause of their daughter’s death.
Itunu’s father, who spoke amidst tears, said even though he did not understand French Language, medical experts he consulted, said the cause of Itunu’s death described as “septic complication by acute respiratory distress” was not accurate and misleading. “If not because of the commission’s chairman, my daughter’s body would not have been released,” he said.
Babalola thanked Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa “for doing everything humanly possible to see to the comfort of his daughter while in prison and ensuring her release through appeal of her sentence in court”.
He alleged that his daughter was victimised while in the prison, appealing to the Federal Government, the Ministry of foreign Affairs and the National Assembly to wade into the matter urgently.
The father said: “We are not satisfied with the autopsy result. Before she died, she was bleeding from the mouth and nose. The police chief who started the case was at the prison where she was kept. He said Itunu was still fat. My daughter told him nothing would happen to her.
“Itunu was promising and caring. She was my confidant. On my birthday, unknown to me, she got a caterer to cook and organise my birthday.
“She didn’t do anything. Her properties were stolen. She was asked to collect N100,000, but she rejected it, saying the worth of her stolen properties was N300,000. The Federal Government should keep asking questions about Itunu’s death.
“This has put me in sadness since then. I want the case to continue. I reject the autopsy. I want to know the cause of her death. I want the Federal Government to please help me and investigate further what led to her death.”
Dabiri-Erewa, in her response, condoled with the Babalola family.
She confirmed that Itunu’s lawyer and the prosecutor said she was innocent of charges against her.
The commission chairperson said the Cote d’Ivoire’s police chief, who was involved in Itunu’s case, must be probed.
Dabiri-Erewa said though she was not a medical doctor, 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.
“I believe that Nigeria should not just let this matter go just like that. We need to demand justice. How come she just died after everything has been done for her release?” she asked.
According to her, “The case had been transferred to Abidjan, the lawyer fees had been paid before the unfortunate incident. Even the lawyer said the girl was not guilty of the crime she was accused of. This autopsy, even to me, does not appear acceptable. So, I hope that we would not let the case go like that.
“I am sure the Minister of Foreign Affairs 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.
“It is a tough one, it is a tragic one. It should not have happened. If we let this go just like that, others will go just like that.
“How could this have even happened in another West African country? We will do all we can. Now that the autopsy report is out, there are more questions to ask. How was Itunu treated in prison? How come she just died like that when the next thing was for her to be released.”
She, thereafter, presented a token to the family in the spirit of the Christmas. She urged Nigerians and the media to ensure that Itunu get justice