The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, General Buba Marwa (rtd), disclosed before the House of Representatives on Thursday that his agency has intercepted and destroyed illicit drugs worth over #60billion in the first six weeks of his assumption of office.
Marwa who was on an advocacy visit to the committee to the House Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, chaired by Rep. Francis Ottah Agbo (PDP-Benue) briefed the committee on the needs of the NDLEA even as he lamented the decay and challenges of the agency.
The former Borno and Lagos State Military Administrator said, “We are indeed going to be very brief; this is both an advocacy visit and on the state of affairs at the NDLEA when I took over as Chairman.
“Nigeria today is in a serious dilemma on the drug scourge. The problem of drug abuse is everywhere now; every community in Nigeria has a drug problem now. It’s also fueling the criminalities going on.
“Nobody in his right senses, will wake up today and say he wants to kidnap 300 children, if he is not under the influence of drugs. Now, criminals use ransoms for drugs.
“The criminality in Nigeria, is fueled by drugs. Drug abuse, is at the bottom of criminality in Nigeria. It’s the role of the NDLEA, to stop drug peddling, even though some of these crimes, are fueled by poverty and unemployment.
“When I took over NDLEA, I saw a handicapped agency. There are no training courses. The staff needed to be trained and upgraded, but there is no money to do that. The training institutions at the agency, are dilapidated, and there are no equipment to fight drug barons in the country.
“Just recently, we seized 230 tons of drugs in Edo state, where armed villagers challenged officers to a duel with sophisticated weapons. But despite these challenges, we have been able to seize over N60bn worth of drugs and narcotics in the last 6 weeks”, he said.
Continuing he said, “All of our staff are owed either traveling, training or death benefits, that are not paid.
“The fight to control the drug trade in Nigeria, is a total fight; all strata of Nigerian society, must be involved. We can do our level best, but we cannot fight with bare hands”.
Consequently, he urged the Committee to intervene on more funding for the agency to perform better.
Responding, Rep Agbo said “ I want to specially on behalf of my colleagues, welcome you to the people’s parliament. The war against narcotic drugs addiction, is a war that we must all engage in, if we must be seen as representatives of the Nigerian people”.
While commending Gen Marwa for “being a turnaround expert, he said, ” you are doing it just like the late Prof. Dora Akunyili turned round NAFDAC and you are going to do better”.
He lamented Gen Marwa’s earlier observation that the agency, “is understaffed, underpaid and ill-equipped”, pointing out that the Committee “approved money for a transit house for NDLEA.
“We also approved money for the purchase of headquarters for the NDLEA. We believe strongly that without a transit house, officers that you transfer to Abuja, will definitely, have problems”.
He added that the committee, also “approved funds for arms purchase for NDLEA and has also amended the Police Trust Fund Act, to read Policing Trust Fund, so that NDLEA can benefit from it”.