Court Reserves Ruling On Baba Suwe’s N25 Million Compensation

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The Court of Appeal, Lagos has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) against the judgment awarding N25 million as compensation in favour of Yoruba actor, Babatunde Omidina, popularly called Baba Suwe, for his wrongful detention by the agency in 2011.

The Justice Chima Nweze-led appeal reserved the case for judgment after parties adopted their briefs of argument on Thursday.

The panel is to communicate the date for judgment to the lawyers representing the two parties when it is ready.

Mr Omidina’s counsel, Bamidele Aturu, at the hearing of the case said the entire appeal by NDLEA urged the appellate court to uphold the judgment of the lower court.

But counsel for the NDLEA, Femi Oloruntoba, in adopting the agency’s five ground-appeal, asked the appeal panel, to set aside the lower court’s judgment for being arbitrary.

Mr Oloruntoba said, “The judgment of the lower court was not a product of the evidence both parties filed before the court.

“Also the award of N25 million against the appellant did not follow the proper principle of award of damages.

“The entire judgment is not supported by law. We urge your Lordships to set aside the whole judgment”.

Mr Aturu faulted all the grounds of the anti-narcotic agency’s appeal, insisting that all the exhibits they relied on at the lower court were “legally worthless”.

He urged the appeal panel to disregard the exhibits, saying they were public documents which ought to be certified but were not.

“We have canvassed at the lower court that the documents were not certified. The argument of the appellant’s counsel that the public documents do not require certification is not the position of the law. We refer your Lordships to Section 102 (a) of the Evidence Act 2011,” he said.

He also accused the NDLEA of being confused over the interpretation of Section 35 (1) (c) of the constitution.

“The appellant seems to be confused over section 35(1)(c) of the Constitution. They (NDLEA) think based on mere reasonable suspicion you can hold somebody indefinitely without charging the person to court,” Mr Aturu said.

Also among other NDLEA’s grounds of appeal was that the trial court wrongly assumed jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

The trial judge, Justice Yetunde Idowu, had in a judgment delivered on November 24, 2011, ordered the agency to pay N25 million to the respondent, for keeping him in custody beyond the legal time limit on a suspicion of drug ingestion.

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

Mr Omidina was arrested by operatives of the NDLEA at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on October 12, 2011 on allegations of ingestion of narcotics.

Justice Idowu had ordered the release of the suspect when there was no evidence that he ingested any narcotic substance, after spending 24 days in detention.

The judge, 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.

Mr Oloruntoba had insisted in the appeal that keeping the respondent in custody between October 12 and 21, 2011, on the suspicion of drug ingestion before obtaining an order of the Federal High Court, Lagos to further keep him (Omidina) for additional 15 days did not violate his rights.

He said that the detention of the applicant for the first nine days was legitimised by the court order obtained on October 21, 2011.baba-suwe-2-300x199

1 Comment

  1. zainab

    April 18, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    Nawa o

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