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Itunu Babalola: FG writes INTERPOL, demands investigation of Ivorian cop

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THE Federal Government has asked the International Criminal Police Organisation to investigate the alleged involvement of an Ivorian police officer in the ordeal of the Nigerian lady, Itunu Babalola, who died in prison custody in Abidjan on Sunday.

The government also presented a protest letter from the deceased’s family to the Ivorian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Traore Kalilou, in Abuja on Wednesday.

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Speaking during a meeting with Kalilou, the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, admonished the Ivorian government to ensure a thorough investigation into Babalola’s death at the Military Hospital two days after she was admitted for diabetes.

The deceased had accused an Ivorian of robbery at her residence and insisted on filing a case against him.

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The accused, who was related to an Ivorian policeman, reportedly asked her to drop the case, but she refused.

She reportedly went ahead to file a criminal complaint against him under the name, Becky Paul, but instead of investigating her allegations, a charge of human trafficking was slammed against Babalola and she was subsequently sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

The term was later reduced to 10 years.

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The FG had said that the Nigerian Mission in Abidjan obtained legal representation for Babalola to appeal the judgment on her behalf as she had vehemently maintained her innocence.

But speaking during her meeting with the High Commissioner, Dabiri-Erewa sought the assurances of the Ivorian government on the autopsy being conducted on Babalola’s corpse.

She stated, “The father has officially written a letter which I would present to you and also on our part, we have written to the Interpol. We are inviting Interpol into this matter because it involves a policeman.

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“All we want is that Itunu’s death should not be in vain; we want the dead to get justice. We condole with the family and our mission in Abidjan is on top of the matter. That is why we have come to see you. On behalf of her family, I present to you the communication from her father.”

Speaking after receiving the petition, the envoy commiserated with the Babalola family on the passage of their daughter, noting that he was in touch with the Nigerian High Commissioner to Cote d’Ivoire on the issue.

He underscored the robust bilateral relations between Abidjan and Abuja, adding that over 3 million Nigerians are living in Côte d’Ivoire.

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A group of women under the aegis of Concerned Mothers of Abuja led by Evangelist Julie Egele protested at the embassy with placards condemning the death of Babalola in custody and demanding justice.

Nigeria Newspapers

I benefited greatly from Babalakin’s wise counsel, Obasanjo mourns

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that the late Justice Bolarinwa Babalakin was until his death and for many years, one of his consultation arrowheads and contact points.

He said that the late jurist was indeed a true senior brother, counsellor, mentor, friend and confidant that would be sorely missed by him.

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The late Babalakin was the father of Dr Wale Babalakin, and one of the country’s eminent jurists, who died on Saturday at aged 94.

In a condolence letter to Babalakin’s junior, a copy made available to newsmen by Obasanjo’s Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo said he so much valued the Hon. Justice “so very much for his wise and sagacious counsel,” declaring “he will be sorely missed by me.”

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The letter reads, “I write, on behalf of my family and on my own behalf, to express our deep sense of loss at the transition of your beloved father, Hon. Justice Bolarinwa Oyegoke Babalakin, one of the nation’s most eminent jurists. Although we are deeply saddened to hear of his transition, we are comforted by the knowledge that he lived a full, distinguished life of service and devotion to his community, his state, the nation and to humanity.

“We commiserate with you and the entire good people of Osun State and pray that Allah, in His mercy, will comfort you and other members of his family.

“Justice Babalakin will for long be remembered for his immense contribution to the building of this great nation, Nigeria.  In all respects, he was a titan: a good man, an inspiring leader and a remarkable statesman whose intellect, integrity, hard work and vision impacted significantly on the legal profession. He served the nation in many challenging positions, notably as Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria from where he retired in 1992.

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“In all of the positions he held, Justice Babalakin earned the respect and confidence of Nigerians and non-Nigerians by dint of hard work, professional excellence, devotion to duty and resourcefulness. Indeed, throughout his entire career in the Public Service, he demonstrated rare qualities of commitment and courage, always upholding the cherished traditions of the Public Service, and left behind a name that was thoroughly bathed in honour and dignity.

“Justice Babalakin’s name will live forever in the minds and hearts of those who experienced his warmth, generosity and guidance.

“As a community leader and a prominent patriot, Justice Babalakin earned the respect of his people, not only for the great commitment that he had for the progress of Gbogan, his hometown, and the rest of Osun State but also for his abiding faith in national unity.

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“He exhibited very good leadership qualities, wisdom and wealth of experience which indeed he put to use in the discharge of his responsibility to his community and the nation as a whole. Until his death and for many years, he was one of my consultation arrowheads and contact points, majorly on the socio-political issues in Nigeria.

“He was indeed a true senior brother, counsellor, mentor, friend and confidant, who I valued so very much for his wise and sagacious counsel. He will be sorely missed by me.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that his death has robbed the nation of the services of a great patriot and public officer of sterling character but his service record will remain a noble challenge to subsequent generations to emulate.

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“As you mourn the loss of your father, you can draw solace from knowing that he lived a fulfilled life and left behind a good name, lofty reputations and high standards. In all his life, he was a true follower of the tenets of Islam. I have no doubt, however, that you and the rest of the family will carry on from where he stopped especially in the areas of promotion of peace, justice, education and community development.

“I pray that Allah will grant him sweet repose, and you and other family members grace to bear the heavy and irreparable loss.”

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Police declare SS3 student wanted for beating teacher to death in Delta

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Delta State Police Command has declared wanted one Michael Ogbeife, an SS3 student of Erhimu Secondary School, Abraka in the State, for beating a teacher of the school, Joseph Ossai, to death.

Michael is said to be on the run after perpetrating the illicit act on Thursday.

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PUNCH Metro gathered that Michael had on that fateful day engaged the teacher in a scuffle that resulted in the teacher giving up the ghost during the fight.

The deceased teacher, who was said to be in charge of Agricultural Science and Biology in the school until his demise, had reportedly flogged Michael’s younger sister, Promise Ogbeife who was involved in a dispute with her classmate.

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It was gathered that Michael got infuriated by the teacher’s decision to flog his sister and the enraged SS3 student resorted to a fight with the teacher.

Sources said that Michael angrily left the school’s premises after his sister was flogged, and later returned back, heading straight to the staff room for a showdown with the teacher.

Some of our sources alleged that Michael had initially rushed home to get a charm before engaging the teacher in the fight.

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It was gathered that the teacher collapsed after some punches from the student which left the teacher with a bleeding nose just as blood was also gushing out from his mouth.

Consequently, the teacher was rushed to a private hospital in the community, from where he was referred to the government hospital where he was confirmed dead on arrival.

Reacting to the gory incident, the proprietor of the school, Mr Erhimu, told journalists that he was awaiting full details of the matter, as he was not around when the incident happened.

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The visibly worried proprietor has however directed that the school be shut till Monday noting that he had been to the police station over the matter.

Confirming the incident, the police public relations officer for Delta State Command, DSP Bright Edafe, told newsmen that the suspect is on the run.

“The suspect is nowhere to be found for now, but his sister is in protective custody”, the PPRO said just as he insisted that efforts are being intensified to arrest the fleeing suspect.

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