Baba Suwe Latest: We Would Sue NDLEA Two Billion Naira … Bamidele Aturu
The case that could rightly be said to be one of the most talked about and also blown opened drug related case in recent times in Nigeria between the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, and Mr Babatunde Omidina, who is popularly known as Baba Suwe came to an end on November 4 with his release by NDLEA after a court order. Baba Suwe had been cooling off in NDLEA's custody for 24 days after he was reported arrested on an alleged suspicion of ingesting substances believed to be hard drug, on his way to Paris.
On November 4, he was granted bail by the court. We caught up with his counsel, Barr Bamidele Aturu after the judgment and this was what he said in this brief interview with him.
How would you describe this case
For us the legal team, you would agree with me that this was a delicate case, in the sense that the NDLEA arrested him on November 12, 2011 and kept him for 24 days, without getting any evidence against him. And that itself constitutes a very gross violation of our constitution, because under our law, you cannot continue to keep somebody in custody and start looking for evidence against such person. What the NDLEA has done has shown alter disrespect and contempt for the laws of this country. And when this happens to the laws of Nigeria, it means that you do not believe in the rule of law. So, we are going to take this up in another matter, because what we have just discovered is that the man was subjected to further medical examination and test and operation I would say, without his consent, and that of his lawyers. This is no doubt a breach of medical ethics and our laws, and we are going to bring a separate action of damages for this.
Was he physically operated on or what
Well, it depends on what you mean by operation, if the applicant is right as he has told the court that some materials were passed through his mouth and anus, and that they flushed out everything in his system, then it think that would qualify as an operation. And that was done without his consent, and as far as we are concerned, that itself is a breach of medical ethics.
Would you go on with the 1billion naira suit against the NDLEA
The suit we are going to bring may now be more than 1 billion naira, because what we are saying is that we want to use this to teach the authorities a very important and fundamental lesson, that you must respect the laws of this country. The citizens' rights are inviolable and you must do everything not to violate the rights of Nigerian citizens. So, this is a test case, everybody in the world is waiting for the outcome of this case. We are going to let the NDLEA know that they cannot do this to suspects in their custody. Now, Baba Suwe is a popular actor and the reason why this has generated public concern and interest in the media is the fact that he is a public figure, now; can you imagine what is happening to ordinary citizens, who are not known in this country? So, we are going to do an audit of NDLEA's detention centres, to know what is happening. That is very important, and at the end of the day, we would ensure that these kinds of things are stopped in Nigeria. The NDLEA has admitted that this case is unprecedented, it has never happened before. Nigeria has now entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for for holding someone in detention for 24 days without any evidence against him. It is really unpardonable.
What word do you have for everyone
I want to thank Nigerians for standing by Mr Omidina at this hour of his need, because Omidina was not fighting for himself. He was just traveling out of Nigeria like every other citizen. He didn't do anything; he was grabbed at the airport and locked up for 24 days, without any evidence against him. As I am talking to you, there is no single evidence linking this man with committing any crime. That is why we must thank everybody who have shown interest in this matter, and we hope by the end of the day, this kind of thing will never repeat itself against.
Do you see this as a victory for fight against human rights abuse or for Baba Suwe
Actually, this is a victory for human rights struggle in Nigeria, it is victory for our democracy, it is triumph for constitutionalism and it shows that when people are willing to defend their rights, victory is certain for them. So, we must also thank the judge, Justice Yetunde Idowu for being courageous she did her job and duty. It is now left for Nigerians to do their duty by always insisting that they would challenge any violation of their rights. I think it is a victory for democracy and the rule of law. Thank you.