Saturday, October 25, 2014

How I was setup and ordered to be given 24 lashes at NDLEA - Baba Suwe

Baba Suwe is yet to recover from the damage resulting from his arrest for suspected cocaine smuggling .The veteran yoruba comedian and actor has maintained his innocence and is still demanding for an apology from the NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ),to help salvage his reputation.In an interview with Nigerian Tribune, he revealed how it all started

It is a long story. What they did tarnished my image. It really hurt me. Theatre is the only way I make money and when my films hit Idumota, it makes the most sales in the industry. I make moneyfrom my rental business and as a master of ceremony within and outside Nigeria. The incident affected all that.
The trip I wanted to make when the incident happened was for a friend’s baby’s naming ceremony. I was asked to be the MC at the christening ceremony. I just got back from London about a month before then, from a movie production with Sanyeri. I was at the airport that day with my sibling and a friend.
My friend even had with him, dundu (fried yam) and akara (bean cakes) which we ate at the airport. That was around 8.30 p.m.
I had got a camera from someone around 10.30 p.m. and was about to board when the incident began to unfold. I had walked past NDLEA officials when a lady among them called me, ‘Baba Suwe, go and see the person standing there.’ I went to see the person she pointed at and was surprised when the person took me directly to their scanning machine. I was even more surprised when he told me I was positive. He said I was a drug pusher and I told him I was not. It all seemed like a setup to me. Before I realised what was going on, I was taken upstairs, to their boss’s office and the boss started throwing accusations at me. ‘Baba Suwe, you are a drug pusher. You deal in cocaine,’ he said and I immediately refuted the accusation.
As if that was not strange enough, he ordered one of his boys to give me 24 lashes of the cane. I couldn’t believe my ears. I asked what that was for and the guy he ordered to cane me just looked at me, smiled and left.
It was when he came back that I realised that the situation was serious. They sat me down for a thorough interrogation which lasted till the next day. In the morning, I pleaded with them to, at least, release the man who was arrested with me because he had to be at his child’s christening. They eventually released him that morning and then transferred me to their hospital where they flushed my system but did not find any drug in me.
At this point, their boss even pitied me. He told me he heard they did not find any drug in me and I answered in the affirmative. They took me back to the airport and I thought they were going to release me, but I was again taken to the general hospital, where they conducted series of tests on me but still couldn’t find anything. The only thing they did not do was to open me up and I would have been happier if they had done that because I am sure they still would not find any drug in me. At least, by then, it would be clear that there was nothing in me.
How were you treated while you were being held there?
They maltreated me for the 19 days that I was there. I slept on metal chairs. I was taken to another hospital again and yet, nothing was found. At this stage, my son had got a lawyer for me. The lawyer, in confidence, asked me if I was dealing in drug for real so as to know how to run their case and I told him that I was doing no such thing. I told him I had travelled to many developed countries with sophisticated and automated airports and I had never had any case with them.
I was eventually charged to court and it was then that it came to light that they had gone to court behind my back even when I was in detention and had gotten judgment. I had no idea. It was the judge in this (new) court that blew things open and told them that he was giving them three days and if they did not find any drugs in my system, I would be discharged.
I was taken to another hospital in Victoria Island the next day where tests were conducted on me again and nothing was found in me. They scanned and flushed me and they almost killed me this time around, but still, nothing was found.
We appeared in court the third day and the judge, having heard what happened, asked the NDLEA the result they got from the hospital, but there was nothing to show. The judge then asked me if I could identify the NDLEA official who took me to the hospital and I did. The official I identified, in his own defence, said it was an order from his superiors. Eventually, the judge ruled in my favour and charged NDLEA with defamation of character and ordered them to pay me N25 million as compensation and make a public apology in two national dailies to clear my name. But they are yet to do any of those things.

What is the situation on the case now?
That case is on as we speak. We don’t know how it will end. I am yet to get any compensation from NDLEA and they did not even apologise. Even if they did not pay me a dime but only apologised in the newspapers, I would be satisfied. I hate being implicated and that was exactly was happened.
I actually excreted more than 25 times the first day and nothing was found in my faeces. All the faeces were kept for record purpose.I believe that someone was behind it all. I don’t know who or why he did it. It could be jealousy, but there is no smoke without fire.

Many believe that you used charm to hide the drug…
I did not use any charm. If there was a charm for drug dealing, I believe the herbalists would be the ones doing drug business themselves. It is said that nobody could have cocaine in their system for more than two days and survive it. I was in detention for 19 days. I love being in company when travelling, so, would I be dealing in drugs and be travelling with people, different people for that matter? I did not use charm. I am not a cocaine pusher, so, I need no charm to cover anything up. God has blessed me in the movie industry and all the wealth and fame I got was from making movies.

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