Friday, 31 May 2013
Court Denies Baba Suwe N25m NDLEA Money
Popular Yoruba actor Babatunde Omidina aka Baba Suwe today failed in his bid to claim the N25m damages awarded him by a lower court for his detention on drug trafficking suspicion by the NDLEA.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Igbosere, Lagos, quashed the judgement of Justice Yetunde Idowu of an Ikeja High Court, which awarded N25 million as damages to the popular actor, over infringement of his fundamental human rights by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.
In its judgement, read by Justice Rita Pemu, the appellate court held that the NDLEA has the prerogative to keep the respondent in custody while investigation is being carried out.
The appellate declared that the Lagos High Court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain in the first place the fundamental human rights suit filed by Lagos radical lawyer and rights activist, Bamidele Aturu on behalf of the comedian.
According to the appeal court, it is only the Federal High Court that has the right to adjudicate on same more especially when it is a drug related matter.
The appellate court therefore held that the award of the damage sum by the trial judge is excessive and unrealistic.
“The constitution stipulates the right to personal liberty. The result of the CT scan carried out on the respondent were in consonance with the appellant’s suspicion.
“The appellant took note of the respondent’s rights and that was why it applied for an extension of time to keep the respondent in custody which the Federal High Court presided over by retired Justice Okeke rightly granted. The detention of the respondent is therefore not unreasonable” Justice Pemu added.
It will be recalled that NDLEA had arrested Baba Suwe on October 12, 2011 at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport on his way to Paris, France and detained him beyond the constitutional provision of 24 hours without formerly arraigning him before a court over alleged complicity in the ingestion of hard drugs.
Justice Idowu, had on November 24, 2011 ordered NDLEA to pay the N25million judgment fee awarded against it to Omidina within 21 days from the day the judgement was delivered.
“The N25 million judgment debt should be paid to the Chief registrar of the Lagos High Court, who will in turn pay it into an interest yielding account of a bank that both parties choose.
“The money should be paid within 21 days from today. The applicant has not given sufficient proof to show that paying the money will harm its operation in any way. What is brought is a mere piece of paper that did not show any details of spending and expenditure” Justice Idowu said.
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