Protecting The Rights Of Nigerians In Diaspora
Recently, the report of the unlawful incarceration of a twenty-three year-old Nigerian, Itunu Babalola in ivory coast became prominent on the social media.
Itunu, a trader based in Bondoukou, Cote d’ivoire, was sentenced to twenty years in prison after a burglary in her apartment which she reported to the local police was turned against her.
A theft case of item worth three hundred thousand naira was twisted against Itunu by the authorities as a case of human-trafficking because she refused the terms of settlement proposed by them.
Her hope for fairness at the temple of justice was dashed when the judge gave her twenty year jail term, contrary to equity, natural justice and good conscience.
The officials of the Nigerian mission in Abidjan when contacted to provide assistance on the matter allegedly asked for four hundred thousand naira to get her a passport before anything could be done.
Experts say the services expected to be provided to citizens by their country’s embassy include the provision of travel documents; advice and support in the case of an accident, serious illness, or death; advice and support to victims of serious crime overseas, and arranging for next-of-kin to be informed, and visitation contact with incarcerated nationals.
Regrettably, Babalola’s fundamental rights to fair hearing and legal representation were denied all through the period of the prosecution.
These miscarriage of justice negate the provisions of the African charter on human and peoples’ rights, which Nigeria and Ivory Coast are signatories to.
In article 2, the charter states that, “every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed in the present charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status.”
No Nigerian citizen should be allowed to suffer the indignity of paying the price for an offence they never committed in a foreign land.
It is heartwarming that Nigerians in diaspora commission is looking into the matter to bring succour to the young lady.
According to the Chairman of the Commission, Abike Dabiri 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 twenty year jail term for an offence she did not commit.”
This should be followed up diligently with the seriousness it deserves.
it is also worthy of note that the commission is compiling a detailed list of Nigerians wrongfully arrested and incarcerated abroad with a view to releasing them from captivity .
In addition, the foreign affairs ministry should be alive to its responsibility of always protecting Nigerians from such unpleasant ordeals while abroad.
It is essential that the ministry investigate the negligence of the Nigerian mission in Abidjan as well as the alleged money collected from her.
Nigeria to so many people is still a land of opportunity, to the citizens that have positive vibes but if it is necessary for Nigerians to leave the country, then it becomes important to obey the rules and regulations guiding their place of residence