Interviews

Baba Suwe opens up on the pains of his cocaine mess

Babatunde-Omidina

‘I’ve lost everything; no one wants to associate with me anymore’

ALHAJI Nurudeen Babatunde Omidina, otherwise known as Baba Suwe, has confessed facing hard times at the moment.  This he attributed to his cocaine mess three years ago, which after court victory, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has failed to apologise to him and pay the N25 million awarded him according to court ruling.  According to the ace comedian, if the NDLEA had fulfilled the two conditions, his battered image could have been redeemed.  And that could have availed him the opportunity to regain his glory.

The Ikorodu, Lagos born comic actor also debunked sleeping with his step daughter, Omolara who he reportedly aborted pregnancies for four times, thereby wrecking her marriage.  Oluaye of Comedy as Baba Suwe is fondly addressed reacted to these and much more when ENCOMIUM Weekly cornered him at an event in Ikeja, Lagos on Friday, March 7, 2014.

Babatunde Omidina (Baba Suwe)

Babatunde Omidina (Baba Suwe)

How would you describe your career at the moment?

I give thanks to God for being alive but to say the truth, things are not moving fine, career wise.  That also affects others in the industry because since things have fallen apart, we’re yet to bounce back.  I believe you’re also aware of the fact that we have about two associations in the Yoruba movie sector.  We have Association of Nigeria Theatre Art Practitioners (ANTP) and Theatre and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN).  As the situation is now, I belong to TAMPAN.

What do you think should be done to ensure that normalcy finally returns to Yoruba movie genre?

Left to me, I don’t think it’s appropriate to quit ANTP because we’re the original founders of the association.  But the association has been bastardised.  That’s why it’s also very difficult for one to be identified with it anymore.  If we look at it very well, Asaolu is not the issue, if he is actually the authentic president. I am not against that but they should have settled everything amicably.  But all these court cases are working against us.  That’s why there is no progress in the industry.

What’s the way forward?

The only solution now is the new association, TAMPAN.  It was formed basically to concentrate on movie production so that we can correct all the mistakes of the past.

Some of your fans are worried concerning the N25m awarded you by the court over your legal battle with National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).  Have you been settled secretly?

There is nothing like that.  I have not collected any money.  The most painful thing is that I was wrongly accused.  Had it been I actually committed the crime, I won’t mind but they just punished me for nothing.  I was in NDLEA custody for almost three weeks, and nothing was found on me. No matter the kind of juju one may have, I don’t think there is anybody that can conceal cocaine for even two days.  Even researches had shown that no one can harbor the substance in the body for two days.  It will burst inside the person’s stomach, which can lead to death.  And I believe after all their investigations, they should have released me so that I could continue with my career.  But the whole situation, the way I was treated actually rubbished my image.  My career has been dwindling.  A lot of people that are supposed to be inviting me to take part in their movies abandoned me because of the incident.

Even a lot of people that could have assisted me financially don’t want to associate with me again. People within and outside the industry have deserted me on account of the allegation.  They are still doubting me despite my victory in court.  I have sang the praises of some people in some of my movies, and I always appreciate whatever they give me.  This makes a lot of people close to me.  For instance, I was close to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu before and he was very nice to me.  He had done a lot for me but now it’s very difficult for me to be close to him again.  He also, is even not comfortable to see me around him again because of the allegation. I don’t enjoy people’s love and admiration as before because some people still don’t believe that it was not true.  Had it been NDLEA officials had tendered an apology, I won’t be this troubled.

Does that mean if they had apologized since, you would have forgotten about the money?

If that had been done, I should have been happy first.  That alone would convince the public and my fans that I didn’t commit the crime.  Never can one tell, their machine might be faulty, but after many tests and cross examinations and no substance was found in my system, they should have set me free and apologized to me.  Even in court, they were asked to provide evidence to substantiate their claim, they couldn’t tender any proof.  So, what else did they still want.

What is the state of the matter now?

We are in Supreme Court now.

But have you lost the hope of getting the money?

Let me tell you, what’s important now is my name.  They have destroyed my image.  If they had apologized since, maybe people might have forgotten the issue totally.  And that also would have afforded me the opportunity to move on.  Then, after apologizing to me, they still have to pay the money. If they had done that, I don’t think I need any argument again.  And with that people will believe me that I am innocent.  Up till now, some people are still saying I used juju.

Some are saying maybe you have conspired with NDLEA, and that you’re just deceiving the public…

(Cuts in) Forget about that.  If I am to say the truth, it’s the media that complicated the issue for me because the day I was arrested, they didn’t have any evidence against me.  I was moved to NDLEA hospital, where they conducted some tests on me, yet no evidence against me.  Their boss now assured me that I shouldn’t be worried.  He now asked of what’s going to be my reaction to what happened, I told him I don’t have any comment. But all I know is that it’s not unlikely that one is arrested wrongly but after all the investigations and tests, the person should be released.  And when they didn’t establish anything against me, they were supposed to release me immediately.  To my surprise, I was taken to another hospital the following day.

You said the matter was complicated by the media, how?

Thank you.  The following day, after my arrest, an evening paper reported it. I don’t know what my offence was with that reporter who wrote the story.  It was the same paper that reported that I killed my wife.  And when the cocaine issue came up, they didn’t investigate anything.  They just blew it out of proportion.  It was even reported that I excreted about 16 wraps of cocaine. Whereas, I excreted more than 20 times, and nothing was found in my excreta.  It’s unfair.

There is a prophet who just predicted that you’re not likely to be paid that money because some witches are blocking it.  He even said they’re following you up and down…

(Cuts in) I believe their fellow witches will fight them.  My God will overpower them.  No form of witchcraft will hinder my progress.  Unless I committed the crime but if not, I am sure I will collect the money by the special grace of God.  And the witches delaying the money will be chained. They will witness how I will be progressing.

What lesson did you learn from the incident?

A lot.  I almost died because of the psychological trauma the incident put me into.  I was fully disturbed.  Since, I have not been doing fine at all.  I don’t get offers as before in the industry.

But as for that, they said your fees are always on the high side. Is it true?

That’s not a condition.  If you’re really talented, you must surely have a class.  No matter, try and maintain that status you have created for yourself.  If they like, let them pay and if they don’t, leave them.  Very soon, they will know that the difference is clear.  What really happened in my own case is that cocaine trafficking allegation which has really affected my career.

It’s almost five years that your wife died, why haven’t you remarried?

How would I remarry when there is no money?  I told you my career has dwindled seriously, I am not making money as I used to.  No woman will want to marry you if you don’t have money.  Not that I don’t want to remarry but I can’t afford it now. I wasn’t the one who killed my wife, people are just interested in fabricating stories.  If I were the one that died then, I believe people would have said the same thing about Omoladun.  They would have accused her of killing me also.

Are you still missing her?

Yes, I miss her every day.  Each time I think of the experience and funny jokes we used to exchange, I feel very sad that she has gone.  She was my adviser, so also was I to her.

Let’s talk about another key issue.  There is a social media report that you’re sleeping with your step daughter, Omolara.  Not only that, it was also reported that you have aborted for her four times.  What’s your reaction to this?

That’s not true at all.  It’s a laughable rumour.  Don’t mind those posting that rubbish. How can I condescend so low to be sleeping with Moladun’s daughter?  Remember, it’s the same Omolara who said I killed her mother.  It was since that time I said I don’t want to see her again.

But they said you have ruined her marriage?

There is nothing like that.  She lives with her husband also in Ikorodu.  Their house is not far from mine.

When last did you see her?

That was last two years.  I only see her each time I pass where her shop is.  And each time she sees me, she greets.

So, there is nothing like romance between you and Omolara?

There is nothing like that. It’s just a cheap blackmail.

-TADE ASIFAT

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