The corpse of a Nigerian woman who died in a prison in Cote D’Ivoire, Itunu Babalola, also known as Becky Paul will arrive in Nigeria tonight (Friday night).
It was learnt that her remains will arrive at Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at 11pm on Friday via Air Côte d’Ivoire.
Family sources told Tribune that Itunu's remains will be interred at Sango cemetery in Ibadan on Saturday, December 4.
Top senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) are expected to receive the body.
About eight months ago, the Nigerian Government, through NIDCOM and the Nigerian Mission in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire had said its investigation into the case of Itunu showed that she was innocent and was framed up.
The government said the former prosecutor in Cote d’Ivoire in collaboration with the police twisted the case against Itunu and accused the woman of human trafficking, leading to her conviction for 10 years, out of which she had unjustly served two years.
Gabriel Odu, of the NIDCOM’s Media, Public Relations and Protocols Unit, issued a statement at the time which noted that the Nigerian government would move to rescue Itunu having established that she was framed up by the Ivorian government.
The government said, “Following painstaking investigations by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the Nigeria Mission in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, it is now confirmed that Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian living in Abidjan was wrongfully charged and incarcerated for a crime she did not commit.
“According to the Chairman of the NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Charge D’Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Côte d’Ivoire, Mr Mohammed Gana, sent officials of the mission to Bondoukou, a city eight hours outside Abidjan when the case was brought to his attention.
"Plans are underway to engage the services of a legal Luminary to prove the innocence of Itunu Babalola at the Court of Appeal after the accused had spent two years out of a ten-year jail term for an offence she did not commit.
“Reports indicate that the new Prosecutor assigned to the case has given assurances of a fair and unbiased review and retrial of the case to secure the release of Itunu Babalola.
“Reports also allegedly indicate that the former prosecutor in collaboration with the police twisted the case and accused Itunu Babalola of human trafficking hence her conviction for 20 years although the sentence was reduced to 10 years from which she has served two years.
“On efforts made to secure her bail, the prosecutor said it is only the Court that can grant her bail as she has already been convicted. We will continue to monitor the case as it unfolds.”
However, several months after, the young lady died after being infected in prison.