Oct 21, 2011 – Nigerian Actors Want Baba Suwe Freed 8 Days After. Family Hires Lawyer
Members of Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, ANTP, led by its former president, Prince Jide Kosoko, have called for the immediate release of star actor, Babatunde Omidina a.k.a. Baba Suwe who is currently being held by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.
Speaking on behalf of the ANTP today, at a press conference held at LTV 8, Agidingbi premises, Lagos, Kosoko said that “it is surprising and quite unbelievable that after a week in the custody of NDLEA and after excreting about three times without the purported hard drugs found, the authorities of NDLEA have refused to release him.”
He said Baba Suwe has been made to go through public humiliation and what has been done to him is unjust punishment for an innocent man.
“This has not only brought untold humiliation, bad press and unprecedented public outcry against Baba Suwe, it has even brought our industry and all the theatre practitioners into public odium. Everybody in our industry is now seen as a potential drug pusher.”
While calling on the authorities concerned not to play any trick on the detained actor,
Kosoko warned that “if nothing drastic is done to ensure his immediate release, we might be forced to go on protest and you know what that means. It might be hijacked by some people and that is problem for the entire nation.”
Present at the conference were Gbenga Adewusi a.k.a. Bayowa, Monsuru Obadina a.k.a. Fala, Bukky Wright, Afusat Balogun a.k.a. Madam Saje, Sokoti, Kola Olaiya, Alabi Yellow and others.
The head of Public Affairs, NDLEA, Mr. Mitchel Ofoyeju had said in a statement today that Baba Suwe is still under observation in its custody eight days after his arrest.
Meanwhile, lawyer to Baba Suwe, Bamidele Aturu, has sent a letter to the Director General of NDLEA over the arrest and detention of Baba Suwe.
The letter, a copy of which was made available to P.M.NEWS today reads: Dear Sir,
RE: UNLAWFUL ARREST AND DETENTION OF MR BABATUNDE OMIDINA (A.K.A. BABA SUWE)
We are solicitors to Mr Babatunde Omidina (a.k.a. Baba Suwe, hereinafter referred to as ‘our client’) on whose behalf and instructions we write this letter.
We have been informed by our client’s relations that he was on the 12th of October, 2011 arrested by your officers while trying to board a France Airline aircraft to France on the suspicion that your machines had revealed that he ingested an unknown quantity of illegal narcotic substances. Since then he has been detained in an unknown facility of your organization in inhuman and dehumanizing conditions, ostensibly waiting for him to excrete the allegedly ingested drugs. We were further informed that you have also denied him access to his lawyers and relations. We have been told that after more than three defecations you have been unable to find anything incriminating against him. Yet you continue to detain him. This is truly amazing.
As officers of the law it is our bounden duty to inform you in the unlikely event, and as it would appear, that your legal officers have failed to do so, that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended guarantees to every person in Nigeria the right to liberty and that no one may be arrested or detained beyond 24 hours without being charged before a court of competent jurisdiction for a criminal offence known to law. To do otherwise is patently illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and an affront on the tenets of liberal democracy.
In the circumstances, we have our clients’ firm instructions to demand, and we hereby so do, that you cause our client to be released from unlawful detention forthwith and also cause to be written and circulated in conspicuous segments of This Day, The Guardian and The Punch, three newspapers circulating all over Nigeria which have repeatedly carried the allegation that our client ingested illegal narcotic substances an unqualified apology within 7 days of your receiving this letter. In addition we demand that you pay to our client the sum of N1 Billion as compensation for the damage that the arrest and detention have done to his person and reputation. Our client will not fold his arms and allow the tarnishing of his hard earned reputation and image that he has spent decades of excruciating personal struggles to build on the altar of unfounded suspicions. As you may probably be aware, suspicion, however robust, does not amount to proof under our system of administration of justice.
TAKE NOTICE that if our client is not released forthwith (that is immediately) and if after the expiration of the stated deadline the compensation has not been paid and the apology has not been published in the manner earlier indicated, we have our client’s firm instruction to institute legal action against you for the unlawful arrest and detention and for the malicious defamation of his character. We have no doubt that a court of law and of equity will most certainly visit the unlawful arrest and detention and the unwarranted imputations against him with heavy and punitive damages. In this era of democracy everyone must justly earn his or her reputation. Our law firm is committed to seeing to that with unwavering commitment and vehemence. The fact that an institution is privileged by law to lead the fight against illegal use and sale of drugs is not a licence for reckless maligning of innocent, reputable, and decent persons. On the contrary, such institutions have the added responsibility to weigh their words and choose their actions lest they injure needlessly and groundlessly the rights and reputation of others which they have built over the years.
We have no doubt that you will accede to this very friendly request.
TAKE FURTHER NOTICE that there will be no further reference to you on this matter.
Accept the renewed assurances of our very high regards.
Bamidele Aturu Esq.
—Ayodele Lawal & Simon Ateba, PM News