August, 16

Killed At Home And Overseas: The Worthless Life Of Nigerian Citizens

In Nigeria, innocent citizens are being killed in their sleep, on the streets, in their farms, and whichever place they are found on a daily basis, without anyone being held to account. In countries around the world, especially in Asia and the Middle East, Nigerians are left by their country to be killed, sometimes without an attempt to establish whether the citizens are indeed guilty of the offences for which they were charged and condemned to death.

For those who have read the story of Itunu Olajumoke Babalola, a young, vibrant Nigerian lady who died on Monday while serving a 20-year jail term in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, it is possible they have decided their lives as Nigerian citizens is worth nothing to the government of their motherland.

And for you that is yet to read the depressing and disgraceful story of how a citizen of the most populous black nation in the world and the so-called giant of Africa was framed by a system in her host country and forsaken to death by her country of citizenship, Nigeria, we can’t conclude that you will not decide what being a Nigerian means to you by the time you are done reading Itunu’s story.

Itunu, like many young Nigerians, left her country in search of a better life and found the city of Bondoukou in Abidjan, a home away from her motherland, Nigeria.

Until her tribulation began in Abidjan and her story made its way to twitter and trended under the hashtag #JusticeforItunu, the young lady was probably living her dreams peacefully, joyfully in a city that some of us may never get to hear of, if not for her dreadful story.

This life, as they say, is a place where nobody is guaranteed a trouble-free tomorrow. Nevertheless, Itunu’s day of trouble came to her very quickly and regrettably.

Itunu, who had lost her properties to a 14-year-old burglar, and afterward filed a report at a local police station in Bondoukou, seeking the return of her valuables or the monetary equivalent of her properties had a case she brought to the police station turned against her by a system that eventually handed her a 20-year jail term which she died serving.

Interestingly, Itunu’s case wasn’t unknown to the Nigerian government. The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Geoffrey Onyeama, was aware. The Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) headed by Hon. Abike Dabiri was also aware.

And what did they do? They promised to take over the case. Did they? We don’t think they did because, if they had, Itunu would probably be alive today like many of us. Itunu, we are sure, would even be happy to keep her life in exchange for her properties.

But the Nigerian government had no interest, according to our interpretation of their silence until the worst happened.

As if the obvious lack of government’s interest in fighting for and getting justice for its citizen wasn’t shameful enough, the Nigerian government hasn’t said a word about Hundeyin’s investigation report which indicted one Olateju Abdulrazak, a Nigerian Embassy’s official, of seeking 2 million naira from Itunu’s helpless family to pay a “lawyer,” even though Abike Dabiri had stated publicly, that she had passed instruction to the Embassy to facilitate the release of Itunu.

This happened as far back as March 2021, based on the date of the investigative report published by the West Africa Weekly and seen by Allubnews. The Nigerian government went to bed, and upon the news of Itunu’s sad passing, wake up with a press release demanding “full investigation” and “full autopsy on the sudden and mysterious death of Itunu Babalola” in Abidjan.

The press release in itself was an insult to the intelligence of Nigerians as it was filled with contradictions. A nation asking for a “full autopsy” because she feels her citizen died “mysteriously” affirmed the same person died as a result of complications caused by diabetes. Like that was not embarrassing enough, the nation went ahead to say her medical bills were paid for by the government.

Based on the facts established by the investigative report published by David Hundeyin, founder of the West Africa Weekly, which showed the failure of the Nigerian Government to use its diplomatic privileges to ensure that Itunu was treated fairly, settled, discharged and acquitted, we at Allubnews are offended that a Nigerian was left to fight a battle she couldn’t have won alone. We are horrified that she was left to be consumed by a battle she fought valiantly.

We are miffed by the fact that the Nigerian government, having 8 long months to work with their Ivorian counterpart to ensure that our sister and daughter was brought back home alive, did nothing worthy of note until she passed on in her captivity, with no family member to hold her hands in her final moments.

As a media organization and voice of fellow Nigerians, we recognize the need to respect our government, yet we refuse to sit and watch without uttering a word when the precious, sacred live of a Nigerian is portrayed to the outside world to not matter, as has been shown by the Nigerian government’s lack of decisiveness in Itunu’s case.

The most powerful nations of the world become what they are today because those to whom the baton of leadership was given were first protected by their countries.

We believe, therefore, that for Nigerians to be patriotic towards their country like citizens of other nations, Nigeria must do for it citizens what other nations do theirs—protect their lives by ensuring they are given a fair hearing anywhere they are indicted of wrongdoing. That is what America does. That is what France, Germany, Israel, Russia and many other nations do.

As difficult, painful, depressing, disappointing and shameful as the avoidable death of Itunu Olajumoke Babalola has being to us, we remain hopeful that Nigeria will one day rise to speak for and defend its citizens across every community, state, region and countries of the world. Nigeria will reclaim its place of respect among the comity of nations.

Our condolences to Itunu’s family and all Nigerians who have died due to the failure of leadership. Nigeria shall rise again!

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