Any NASS member who votes to legalize cannabis can’t return home, says Marwa

•Briefs Buhari on barracks for personnel, recruitment

The Chairman of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa, Friday admonished lawmakers not to support the legalization of cannabis, saying that National Assembly members who vote for it cannot return their constituencies.

He made the declaration while fielding questions from correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.

The former Lagos State military administrator, who said the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the dangers of cannabis to the brain, affirmed that Nigeria is the highest consumer of substance.

While vowing that the country will never allow its legalization, he said: “Now, the World Health Organisation itself has declared cannabis affects the brain, alters brain function. It destabilizes, affects behaviour. It also affects body organs, and at some point, it can lead to death.”

“So, while we appreciate those who want to localize it for financial gains, we have to be careful to reconcile it with life. So it’s money versus life. And up to this point, science has not developed up to the point where it can remove the THC in cannabis to zero.

“Therefore, cannabis is harmful to our health, it is a danger to society. We must never allow its legalization. What’s more, Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users, this is the highest in the world. Isn’t it sad?

“We should be the highest in science, technology, mathematics, physics, and stuff that were looked at as highest in cannabis. That is something we need.

“We can never support legalization and I don’t see how the National Assembly would pass the Act because I know 90% or more of the honourable and distinguished members of the National Assembly know the implications of this legalization and they dare not go back to their constituencies if anyone signs legalization because we’re seeing the implication on the ground. The youths, the families are being destroyed because of cannabis and drugs. It wouldn’t be legalized by the grace of God.”

Marwa revealed that he constantly receives death threats from criminals in the course of his job but is not overly concerned even though he takes precautions.

Asked whether he receives threats, he answered: “Severally, it’s almost a daily occurrence, because my phone number is open. Equally, messages come through family, through colleagues, and sometimes people at random who we don’t know but I live in the territory. That said we also take precautions.”

The NDLEA boss said he was at that presidential villa to brief President Buhari on the recent activities of the agency especially the move to build barracks for its personnel, saying that the president responded positively to the initiative.

He added: “We have as you know, personnel in 36 states of the Federation and FCT, therefore, we expect barracks in all the locations that as we as having to travel the country, the budgetary provisions is something that I will not comment on at this point.

“Well, the President told us well done. And that well done, does not go to Gen Marwa, but the NDLEA officers and men. And if there’s a secret behind it, we thank the Almighty God for his successes recorded so far, and also to the gallant and professional officers, and men of the NDLEA who have remained upstanding.”

On the other issues he discussed with the president, Marwa stated: “Basically, I am in the Villa to see the commander in chief and to appreciate his support and political will for the work in abuse Nigeria, and as well to bring him up to date on activities since the launching of the war against drug abuse in June by Mr President.”

“As far as activities in the drug supply reduction sphere are concerned, we have seized drugs worth billions of Naira over 100 billion. Those cash has been sent to the CBN and the actual drug themselves we have sought for forfeiture from the courts for destruction.”

“We have jailed 1,630 since January – these criminals, shameless criminals, and murderers who traffic drugs. We have counselled and rehabilitated over 4000 within our NDLEA facilities. The issues of the war against drug abuse cascade down to communities.

“So, I briefed the President on the advocacy work that we’re doing across the country structures, state level, local government, communities, the role of traditional institution and NGOs media, what families are expected to do, the school system.

“The federal ministry of education already is working on curricula, because now kids start taking drugs from primary school. We need to get to the root of it. These are some of the areas that we have touched with the president, clearly a substantial part of which I may not disclose.”

“Finally, and very importantly, I raised the issue of barracks. The NDLEA has been in existence for 32 years. All other agencies, armed forces, police, customs, immigration, road safety all have estates, and barracks, except the NDLEA, we still don’t have barracks.”

“And now, considering the hazardous nature of the work that we do, the danger in it, we arrest and jail the criminals and then live among them.”

He further explained: “When you send operatives, to go into the forest, to go after the criminals, they will be encouraged if they knew that their own families are secure in a barracks somewhere.

“So, clearly, we got a positive response on that from the commander in chief, we’re very grateful for it and we look forward to the execution. As soon as it is practicable. The economy, I’m sure permitting.”

He said the president is also supportive of the need to recruit more hands for the NDLEA to expand its personnel.

“Second is the issue of recruitment. Considering the size and responsibilities before us. We need to expand. This matter was discussed with the Commander in Chief. And we also again received a listening ear, we are very grateful,” he stated.

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