The Supreme Court will decide whether Baba Suwe should be paid N25million by the anti-drug office
Popular actor, Babatunde Omidina, AKA Baba Suwe, has headed to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal quashed N25 million awarded to him as damages in an alleged drug trafficking case.
In an appeal filed on July 12 at the apex court, Baba Suwe said that the justices of the appellate court erred when they overturned a high court judgment in his favour.
A Lagos High Court had in November 2011 ordered the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, to compensate Mr. Omidina for keeping him in custody beyond the legal time limit on the suspicion of drug ingestion.
However, in a judgment by the appellate court 18 months later, the Justice Chima Nweze-led panel held that the award of N25 million to Mr. Omidina as damages for the violation of his fundamental human rights was “perverse” and “wrong.”
“The detention was not up to a year, what then informs the award of N25 million?” Rita Pemu, who read the lead judgment, asked.
“There was simply no basis for that; he was held for nine days,” the judge added.
The NDLEA arrested Mr. Omidina on 12th October, 2011, at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, on his way to Paris on the suspicion of ingestion of drugs.
After he had not excreted any hard drug for nine days, the agency secured a Federal High Court detention order and held him for a further ten days.
In his seven ground appeal through Bamidele Aturu, his lawyer, Mr. Omidina urged the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal.
Mr. Aturu said that the matter before the court was a violation of his fundamental rights and a criminal matter.
“As every arrest and detention is ‘based on something,’ if the decision of the Court of Appeal were right or sound then there can no longer be a substantive fundamental right matter based on arrest and detention,” Mr. Aturu said.
In the appellate court’s judgment, Ms. Pemu held that the NDLEA was right in securing an order from the court to detain Mr. Omidina for a further 15 days.
But Mr. Aturu argued that there was evidence that his client was held for nine days without being charged to court, adding that he excreted regularly during the detention period.
“The law does not empower the respondent first to detain a person and then fish for evidence in the name of ‘supervising excretion,'” said Mr. Aturu.
“It is a notorious medical fact that no substance ingested can remain in the human intestine beyond 48 hours provided such human is passing stool normally and that it takes an average of 18-24 hours for food to traverse the intestines,” he added.
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