NDLEA, Baba Suwe’s case gets fresh hearing date
The Court of Appeal, Lagos has again fixed April 18 for hearing of an appeal by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) against a judgment ordering it to pay N25m as compensation to Yoruba actor, BabatundeOmidina, popularly called Baba Suwe, for wrongful detention in 2011.
The Justice Chima Nweze-led appeal panel re-scheduled the hearing which was earlier slated for Friday on the grounds that it was wrongly listed.
The court, in view of the error, therefore adjourned for definite hearing.
NDLEA, through its counsel, Mr. Femi Oloruntoba, had in a five-ground notice of appeal, urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment.
Among its grounds of appeal are that the award of N25m in favour of Omidina was arbitrary and 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 N25m 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.
Omidina was arrested by operatives of the NDLEA at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on October 12, 2011 on allegations of ingestion of narcotics.
He was said to be detained without any evidence that he ingested any narcotic, as he did not excrete any of such substance throughout the period of his incarceration.
Idowu, 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.
Oloruntoba had insisted in the appeal that keeping the respondent in custody between October 12 and 21, 2011, on the suspicion of drug ingestion, did not violate his rights.
The agency further stated that there was an order of the Federal High Court on October 21, 2011 for a further detention of the applicant for 15 days.
He said that the detention of the applicant for nine days was legitimised by the court order.
NDLEA is, therefore, contesting Justice Idowu’s decision that the detention of the applicant for nine days, between October 12 and 21, 2011, was ‘a flagrant abuse and infringement on his fundamental human rights.
The NDLEA also stated in its notice of appeal that drugs and poisons were items under the Exclusive Legislative List in the 1999 Constitution and also subject to exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court by virtue of Section 251 of the constitution.
He contended that the judicial powers of the high court of a state were not extended to the subject matter of litigation.
Idowu had granted a partial stay of execution of the judgment in March 2, 2012, and had ordered the NDLEA to pay the money to the Chief Registrar of the court, who would in turn pay it into an interest-yielding account.