A 21-year-old Nigerian dealer primarily based in Bondoukou, Cote d’Ivoire, Itunu Olajumoke Babalola, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on trumped-up fees after she was arrange by corrupt officers to cowl up a criminal offense dedicated in her home by a DPO’s nephew.
Accoording to award-winning journalist, David Hundeyin, Itunu’s harrowing ordeal started in October 2019 after she reported a housebreaking in her house to the native police.
Hundeyin, who shared the younger girl’s plight on Twitter, mentioned that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Bondoukou had prevailed on Itunu to drop the case after the suspected burglar turned out to be his 14-year-old nephew however she refused.
The DPO tried to bribe Babalola with N100,000 for her stolen objects however she was adamant, sighting disparity between the worth of the objects and the cash provided. The enraged DPO was mentioned to have organized trumped-up fees towards her and despatched her to detention.
“In September 2019, 21-year-old Itunu, a dealer primarily based in Bondoukou, Cote d’Ivoire travelled to Nigeria to go to her sick mum in Ibadan. Unknown to her, her return to Cote d’Ivoire would mark the beginning of a harrowing ordeal in a infamous Ivorian jail, which remains to be ongoing,” Hundeyin wrote.
“Shortly earlier than Itunu was as a consequence of journey, her flat was burgled and objects value greater than N300,000 have been stolen, together with her TV and gasoline cooker. Regardless of the blow, she determined to journey anyway after reporting the incident to the police. She returned from her journey in October 2019.
“Upon returning, she was knowledgeable by a lodger she left in her flat that the thief had been recognized. The thief turned out to be a 14-year-old boy who lived close by. His embarrassed dad apologised and admitted that his son was a recurring thief. The objects had already been bought.
“Itunu reported this to the police who advised her to return on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. The appointment was held on Wednesday, November 6. There she says, the Divisional Police Officer knowledgeable her that the suspect was actually his nephew. He then provided her a settlement value roughly N100,000 to drop the case.
“She refused the settlement, citing the disparity between the worth of the stolen objects and what was provided. Subsequent, she says, the visibly enraged DPO tried all the things to frustrate her to drop the case, together with making her journey to Abidjan for a police appointment.”
Hundeyin continued by saying even when Itunu employed a lawyer, the police ensured they annoyed her case by refusing to cooperate with the lawyer.
“Pissed off, she returned house to Bondoukou. Round 5 pm the next day, a convoy of police automobiles confirmed up outdoors her home and publicly arrested her. On attending to the station, she was charged with theft –the theft of her personal objects in her personal house. She spent the following four days in police custody, after which she was taken out of the cell and provided her freedom if she agreed to signal papers dropping her case.
“For no matter motive regardless of the clear unhealthy religion displayed by the Ivorian police, Itunu says she rejected the provide and selected to go to courtroom as an alternative. She says she then overheard an officer saying “Elle est une Nigériane? Elle mourra ici!” (“She’s a Nigerian? She’s going to die right here!”)
“The choice to go to courtroom turned out to be a monumental error of judgment compounded by her personal naivety in regards to the Ivorian justice system. The (French-speaking) courtroom didn’t enable her sufficient authorized illustration or give her an opportunity to correctly state her case,” he added.
It was learnt that Itunu was speedily convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
““Complicating this was her choice to determine herself to the courtroom as ‘Becky Paul’. She says she did this to keep away from getting her household title combined up in unhealthy information and probably upsetting her aged mum.
“Because of this, for the previous one 12 months and four months that she has been convicted, Itunu alias ‘Becky Paul’ has change into, to all intents and functions, a forgotten inmate on the infamous Maison d’arrêt et de Correction Bondoukou (Bondoukou Remand and Correction Facility).
“When her Nigerian mates in Cote d’Ivoire approached the Nigerian Embassy in Abidjan to supply consular help for her case, officers reportedly requested for N400,000 to get her a passport earlier than something might be completed.
“She says she has exhausted all her financial savings over the previous 12 months, spending nicely over N1 million to attempt to clear her title whereas the Ivorian justice system in addition to particular person jail officers collude to frustrate all her efforts. She has misplaced hope and she or he has tried suicide twice.”
Hundeyin has appealed to related authorities to assist free Itunu as she is depressed and presently suicidal.
“She has misplaced hope and she or he has tried suicide twice. That is an enchantment for the sake of an harmless Nigerian girl caught in a hostile international jail after being arrange by corrupt officers to cowl up a criminal offense dedicated by an Ivorian DPO’s nephew,” Hundeyin wrote.