Nigerians Are All on Edge with Jailed Star on John

By Jed Bickman 10/18/11

Imagine waiting for Adam Sandler to take a crap to see if he swallowed packaged cocaine to smuggle to France.

Nollywood's Baba Suwe photo via

Nollywood star Baba Suwe is being held “under observation” in Lagos for alleged drug trafficking. Suwe, whose real name is Babatunde Omidina, is one of the shining stars of the Nigerian film industry, an award-winning comedian with an extensive filmography and following. Nigeria's National Drug Law Enforcement Agency alleges that he was smuggling cocaine to France, using the time-honored trick of ingesting packages of the powder. However, after two days, the alleged cocaine has yet to, uh, surface. Meantime, Suwe's not inconsiderable fan base is furious at the indignity their man is suffering as the entire nation awaits his next bowel movement.

The NDLEA has tried to keep a lid on public fury with the announcement that if Baba Suwe doesn’t crap out the cocaine after “three excretions"—NDEA's preferred terminology—it will release him with apologies. Its director general, Femi Ajayi, said, “I am sure the man concerned will see that we are taking care to even ensure that we speed up the process apart from the excretion.” He added that officials may turn to high-tech measures to speed up nature's ways, employing a CT scan to detect the presence of cocaine packages somewhere in his system, a test that requires a trip to the hospital.

Legal observers have raised that concerns Suwe's rights to due process have been violated because he is being kept in detention without cause or charge.

NDLEA spokesman Mitchell Ofoyeju defended his agency, urging the public not to condemn the drug-law officials for doing their job, even if it involves paying what may seem to be undue attention to the star's digestive and excretory processes. “One thing I want people to understand is that this period is actually an investigative period and conclusions have not yet been made," he said. "We do not go to press to announce that somebody had been arrested. However, in Baba Suwe’s case, because he is a celebrity, when people called, we could not deny [that] he is in our custody.” Ajayi also used his moment at the mike to complain that his agency is dramatically underfunded and to remind Nigerians that the rate of consumption of both hard drugs and marijuana is rising. 

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Jed Bickman is a journalist and copywriter living in the greater New York City area. He is the associate editor at The New Press. You can find him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.