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Published On: Fri, May 31st, 2013

N25m : NDLEA Wins Appeal against Baba Suwe

By Oghenekevwe Laba
The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Friday May 31 set aside the judgment of Justice Yetunde Idowu of Lagos State High Court which ordered the anti-narcotic Agency to pay twenty-five million naira (N25,000,000) to popular comedian, Babatunde Omidina aka Baba Suwe for unlawful arrest and detention for nine days from October 12, 2011 to October 20, 2011. The Comedian was apprehended on October 12, 2011 over suspicion of narcotic ingestion during the screening of Air France passengers to Paris.
In a judgement delivered by Justice R. N Pemu, the court held that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA), had good reason to detain the comedian. It upheld the argument of the NDLEA that the Lagos State High Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter and accordingly set aside the 25 million naira compensation awarded against the NDLEA and the order to publish public apology in two national dailies within 21 days of judgement.
Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency, Ahmadu Giade described the Appeal Court judgement as a victory for drug control in the country. In his words, “this judgement is a victory for drug control in the country”.
In its judgenment on the issue of damages awarded against the Agency, the Appeal court stated that the detention of the comedian was within a reasonable period as stipulated by the law. “The Agency was conscious of the fundamental rights of the comedian when it promptly approached the Federal High Court Lagos for additional days of detention for observation. There was simply no basis for the 25 million naira damages. The compensation is excessive and hereby set aside” Justice Pemu stated.
The NDLEA Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Mr Femi Oloruntoba, expressed delight with the Appeal Court judgement. “We are happy with the judgement. It is fair and serves the best interest of justice” Femi stated.
Adopting NDLEA’s brief dated February 3, 2012, Oloruntoba submitted that the lower court judge erred in law as the judgment was not a product of evidence presented before the court. Oloruntoba argued that the lower court erred as the entire judgment was faulty and that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the fundamental human rights suit filed by the respondent.
In a swift reaction, counsel to Babatunde Omidina, Mr Bamidele Aturu said that they will contest the Appeal Court judgement at the Supreme Court. “With profound respect, we thank the Court for the judgement. However, we disagree with the decision and will appeal the judgement” Aturu said.

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