An Ikeja High Court on Friday ordered the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to deposit the N25 million judgment sum awarded in favour of Nollywood Star, Babatunde Omidina (a.k.a Baba Suwe), with the court’s Chief Registrar.
Justice Yetunde Idowu ordered that the deposit should be made within the next 21 days.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the judge had on November 24, 2011 ordered the NDLEA to pay Mr. Omodina the money as damages.
The money was to compensate the actor for his arrest and detention by the agency for nine days without a valid court order.
The court also ordered the agency to publish a public apology to Mr. Omodina in two widely read national dailies.
“The N25 million is to be deposited with the registrar in an interest-yielding account and in a bank agreed upon by the parties in the suit.
“This should be done pending hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the NDLEA against the court’s judgment at the Appeal Court in Lagos,” the judge said.
Ms. Idowu, while granting the application of stay of execution of the court’s judgment filed by the NDLEA, said the above conditions must be met by the agency.
According to her, leaving the judgment sum to the judgment debtor will “smack of an unfair advantage”.
She said the NDLEA had failed to provide sufficient proof of its actual resources and expenditure before the court.
“An order for stay of execution should not be sought to serve as a substitute for the judgment the trial court denied the party,” Ms. Idowu ruled.
NDLEA’s lawyer, Femi Oloruntoba, had on December 6, 2011 filed an appeal against the judgment at the Appeal Court and on February 8, he also approached the court for a stay of execution of the judgment.
He argued that the judgment of the appellate court would be rendered nugatory should the NDLEA succeed in its appeal if an order of stay was not granted by the lower court.
Mr. Oloruntoba said the apology could not be published because it would prejudice their case at the appellate court.
He said the NDLEA was “impecunious” and that paying Mr. Omidina the N25 million damages would deprive the agency of funds to perform other vital statutory functions.
Opposing the application, Mr. Omidina’s lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, urged the court to refuse it, saying the court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter and also award the damages.
Mr. Aturu urged the court to order the agency to deposit the judgment sum with the Chief Registrar, who in turn, would deposit it in an interest-yielding account.