We read a recent interview reportedly granted by Tontoh Dikeh to The Nation. It’s very surprising that one of the issues discussed was that of the infamous picture supposedly posted on the star’s Instagram account. It’s assumed that the matter had been buried.
In response, Ms. Dikeh said she had not been contacted by the NDLEA, which is not surprising at all.
We trust that Ms. Dikeh would have sought legal advice on this matter and that’s perhaps why she said it will be a shame should the NDLEA contact her.
Unless the Drug Law Enforcement Agency have re-written the Law of Evidence or they operate by their own set of evidence rules we at urnaija don’t expect any action to emanate from the Instagram picture.
Before a person could be prosecuted for possession of a banned substance, the NDLEA would have confiscated the substance, taken a sample to their lab for analysis and got a confirmation from the lab that the substance is actually what it is suspected to be.
During the trial, the analyst who tested the substance would be called to give evidence as an expert witness and the defence lawyer should be given the opportunity to cross examine the expert witness as regards the true nature of the substance.
It will be a turning point in Nigeria’s jurisprudence when a person is prosecuted or sentenced for possession of a banned substance on the strength of a photograph posted on the Internet.
This case brings to mind a similar situation involving British top model and mother of one, Kate Moss. In September 2005, the Daily Mirror published this picture of Kate Moss allegedly snorting a white substance suspected to be cocaine in a London studio while her then boyfriend, Pete Doherty, notorious for his hard-drugs related brushes with the Law, was recording an album:
After the pictures came a youtube video showing her allegedly snorting the white stuff:
She lost a few big contracts but she gained more than she lost as she even became more popular. It was almost as if the cocaine incident rejuvenated her career.
About seven months after the pictures and video emerged the Daily Mail published a story in their 4th April 2006 edition that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the government agency responsible for prosecuting drug related crimes, might not press any charges against her. According to the Daily Mail there are three main reasons why lawyers believe there is insufficient evidence to charge her. Firstly, police cannot be 100 per cent certain that she was snorting cocaine in the pictures published. If charged, she could argue that she was pretending to take the drug.
Secondly, there are fears that she could have been “set up” to take substances by music industry insiders looking to sell the images to a newspaper. It is believed the Daily Mirror paid up to £150,000 for the footage.
Finally, she refused to say anything incriminating when interviewed by officers after the photographs emerged. Without an admission of guilt, she cannot even be cautioned.
About two months later, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that they were dropping charges against Kate Moss completely. Here’s what a source at CPS said, “We knew from the outset that the photographs were not legal proof. The case would never have gone ahead if it had been plain Mr Jones.”
Since the Nigerian Legal system is similar to that of the United Kingdom it should be assumed that the Tonto Dikeh incident will go the same way the Kate Moss saga went.
CAVEAT: This article does not constitute legal advice. The only advice we can give Ms. Dikeh is to seek independent legal consultation on the matter if she hasn’t done so already.
We also wish her all the very best in her music and acting careers.