Popular Nigeria Comedian Detained As Drug Suspect

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Baba Suwe

Baba Suwe

 A popular Nigerian comedian was detained after an airport full-body scanner detected what investigators believe were drugs hidden inside his body, an official said Friday as investigators waited for the entertainer to excrete his stomach contents.

Comedian Baba Suwe, whose real name is Babatunde Omidina, remained held Friday by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency after investigators stopped him Wednesday night at Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport before he could board a 10 p.m. Air France flight to Paris.

Agency spokesman Ofoyeju Mitchell said the scanner picked up a suspicious object inside his body.

Baba Suwe, 53, is a popular figure in Nigeria’s Nollywood movies, often playing a befuddled butler or security guard for comic relief in his native Yoruba language. He is now at the agency’s Lagos office where investigators and a doctor are waiting for him to excrete so they can analyze the results.

“I find it very difficult to believe that Baba Suwe would do that,” said Jide Kosoko, ex-President of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, to which Baba Suwe belongs.
Kosoko added: “Let’s wait and see.”

The Nigerian drug agency said Baba Suwe was traveling to France for a naming ceremony for a daughter of an Air France employee. The comedian was expected to host the event, the drug agency spokesman said.

An airline employee who was accompanying Baba Suwe when he was detained was also prevented from boarding the flight. However, the employee was not detained as a full-body scan did not reveal anything, the drug agency spokesman said.

A spokesman for Air France-KLM declined to immediately comment.

Nigeria is a major transit point for cocaine and heroin to Europe and the U.S. Baba Suwe’s celebrity has made his arrest a high-profile case.

Actors and actresses in Nigeria’s prolific low-budget film industry known as Nollywood have come a long way since the early 90s when the industry first emerged. Their earnings have grown significantly, as has their audience, which has grown worldwide.


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