Baba Suwe vs NDLEA: Parties to argue briefs April 18

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The Court of Appeal, Lagos has fixed April 18 for hearing in the appeal filed by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, challenging the N25 million damages awarded to Yoruba actor, Babatunde Omidina (Baba Suwe).

Justice Yetunde Idowu of a Lagos High Court, Ikeja, had on November 24, 2011, ordered the agency to pay N25 million as damages for unlawful detention of the respondent on suspicion of drug ingestion.

The court also ordered the agency to apologise to the actor publicly, in conspicuous pages of two national dailies.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the hearing on Friday at the appellate court had to be adjourned because the suit was listed for motion, instead of arguments.

The court, presided over by Justice Chima Nweze, said the suit was wrongly listed for motion, instead of arguments.

Nweze said that in view of the error, the case was, therefore, adjourned to April 18 for definite hearing.

NAN recalls that Baba Suwe was arrested by NDLEA operatives at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on the October 12, 2011 for allegedly ingesting narcotics.

He was detained for several weeks but did not excrete any such substance.

The trial judge, Idowu, in her judgment, held that the detention of the actor and the ill treatment meted to him while in custody violated his constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

Counsel to NDLEA, Mr. Femi Oloruntoba, in a five-ground notice of appeal, urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment, claiming that the award of N25 million in favour of Omidina was arbitrary.

He also submitted that the trial court wrongly assumed jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

Oloruntoba had insisted in the appeal that keeping the respondent in custody between October 12 and October 21, 2011, on the suspicion of drug ingestion, did not violate his rights.

The agency further stated that there was an order of the Federal High Court on October 21, 2011 for a further detention of the applicant for 15 days.

He said the detention of the applicant for nine days was legitimised by the court order.

The NDLEA is therefore contesting Justice Idowu’s decision which held that the detention of the applicant for nine days, between October 12 and October 21, 2011, was “a flagrant abuse and infringement of his fundamental human rights.”


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