Legal Nigeria

Judge chides NDLEA for detaining suspect illegally

Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday said it was wrong for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to detain suspects without a court’s order.
He said judges would not need to bother with several fundamental rights applications by detained suspects if the agency did the right thing.
“You are giving us pressure – unnecessary pressure,” the judge said while addressing counsel for NDLEA, Ibrahim Abu.
Abu was representing the agency in the case of a businessman, Chika Okonkwo, who filed an application challenging his detention without charge by NDLEA. He is seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights and is demanding N200million damages.
Justice Saidu said the suit could have been avoided had NDLEA obtained an ex-parte application to keep the suspect, or charge him and then apply to keep him in detention if necessary.
“You cannot keep a suspect in detention perpetually,” the judge said.
The applicant said he arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport from South Africa on November 16, but later realised that he was mistakenly given another passenger’s luggage.
He returned the wrong luggage, only to be accosted by NDLEA agents who sought to know what was in his bag.
He said no banned hard drugs or substances were found on him, except for $83,000, 12,500 euros, 15 handsets and 14 bottles of Hennessey.
Despite not finding any drugs on him, NDLEA officials took Okonkwo to their office at Shaw Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, on November 17, where he was detained.
The Nation