The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has moved to stop the payment of N25m compensation awarded by a Lagos High Court in favour of the Nollywood actor, Mr. Babatunde Omidina, popularly called Baba Suwe.
The anti-drug law agency on Wednesday asked the court for a stay of execution, pending the determination of its appeal against the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Lagos.
The agency, among other grounds for its application, argued that it was incapable of paying the judgment debt as the "N25m awarded the respondent (Baba Suwe) is half of the monthly budgetary resources the appellant/applicant (NDLEA) has to perform its statutory duties."
The agency stated in its nine-paragraph affidavit in support of the application.
"That the appellant/applicant is hamstrung in paying the sum awarded as damages due to lack of fund."
But in a counter-affidavit dated January 19, 2012 and deposed to by the respondent himself, Baba Suwe urged the court to refuse the application for a stay of execution in respect of the monetary aspect of the judgment.
His lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, rejected the agency's excuse for inability to pay the judgment debt, saying, "A statutory body that receives a total budgetary sum of N7,813,793,322 cannot be described as impecunious."
Represented by its Director, Prosecution and Legal Services, Mr. Femi Oloruntoba, the agency however said, of the total 2011 budgetary allocation, N7.1bn was earmarked for personnel cost, leaving only N633m as its total annual overhead cost.
Justice Yetunde Idowu, in her judgment on November 24, 2011, ordered the agency to pay N25m to the actor and apologise to him publicly on "conspicuous pages of two national daily newspapers within 21 days" of delivering the judgment.