The Nigerian actor was accused of ingesting drugs.
The Court of Appeal in Lagos will, on Friday, hear arguments on the appeal by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, against the judgment ordering it to pay N25 million as damages to popular actor, Babatunde Omidina, popularly known as Baba Suwe.
The Yoruba actor was, in 2011, detained for weeks by the agency on the suspicion of ingestion of illicit drugs.
The hearing of the appeal is coming more than one year after the NDLEA filed its notice of appeal against the judgment delivered by a Lagos High Court, Ikeja.
In her judgment on November 24, 2011, Yetunde Idowu, the trial judge, ruled in favour of the actor and ordered the NDLEA to pay him N25 million as compensation for keeping him in custody beyond the legal time limit on the suspicion of drug ingestion.
The judge also ordered the agency to tender a public apology to Mr. Omidina in two national newspapers.
The drug agency, however, filed a five ground notice of appeal urging the appellate court to set aside the ruling of the lower court as it was not only arbitrary but the court wrongly assumed jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The agency further maintained that putting the actor in custody on the suspicion of drug ingestion, between October 12 and 21, did not violate his rights.
“There was an order of the Federal High court on October 21, 2011, for a further detention of the applicant for 15 days,” said the anti drug agency, represented by Femi Oloruntoba, Director of Prosecutions and Legal Services.
“The detention of the applicant for the nine days has been legitimized by the order,” Mr. Oloruntoba added in the notice of appeal.
The agency also contested Mrs. Idowu’s decision on the grounds that she “misdirected herself on the facts when she held” that the detention of the applicant for nine days, between October 12 and 21, 2011, was “a flagrant abuse and infringement of the fundamental human rights of the Applicant.”
“The applicant could not be said to have been detained for nine days having regards to the circumstances of this case,” the agency said.
“In the alternative, If there was any unlawful detention (which is not conceded), it was for only four days. That is from 17th October to 20th October, 2011,” the agency said.
The NDLEA also challenged the jurisdiction of the Lagos High Court to entertain the matter.
“Drugs and poisons are items under the Executive Legislative List in the 1999 Constitution and also subject to exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court by virtue of Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The judicial powers of the High Court of a State do not extend to the subject matter of litigation,” it held.
The Appeal Court had, on March 2, 2012, granted a partial stay of execution of the judgment by ordering the NDLEA to pay the money to the Chief Registrar of the court who would in turn pay it into an interest-yielding account.
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