NDLEA needs restructuring, Senate President tells Marwa

• Says drug barons bankrolling terrorists

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has charged the new Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (Rtd) to ensure restructuring of the agency to enable it to deliver maximally in its crusade against criminal activities of drug traffickers operating in the country.

Senator Lawan made the demand, on Thursday, while playing host to the Chairman of the NDLEA.

The Senate President who fingered drug barons as the source of funding of the terror gang, Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers assured the NDLEA that the National Assembly would give needed legislative backing to the agency with a view to enabling the agency to achieve its core mandates.

He said: “The National Assembly members are almost on daily interaction with our constituents and we know the very debilitating impact of drug abuse in our various communities.

“You have rightly said that almost every community in this country suffers from drug addiction. So, we are very mindful of what is happening.

“I believe that this agency needs restructuring. Now that you have taken over, we should go the whole haul to restructure the agency, not piecemeal touches, because we need to get it right.

“My personal opinion is that NDLEA should be in the league of EFCC, ICPC, and therefore, the kind of support that those two agencies I mentioned receive, you should receive something like that, in addition to many other things that you should be supported with.

“So, the National Assembly will definitely work with you, we will partner with you, and will ensure that we do our best to give you the kind of support that will enable you properly to discharge your mandate.

“Having said this, let me say that Nigeria as a country is in one way or the other a transit route for drugs.

“Drug peddlers pass their drugs through Nigeria – cannabis, heroin and possibly even cocaine.

“We believe that this has to stop because the proceeds of such activities fund terrorism, they fund banditry, you wonder how the bandits have RPGs and these massive arms that they have.

“Definitely, these are some acquisition provided by some barons, not the bandits themselves.

“So, we need to ensure that this transit role that Nigerians plays is addressed properly. And here we have to approach this through multi-sectoral efforts – the Customs, Immigration Service, our Security Agencies, and in fact, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and our seaports.

“Of course, this is not going to be easy, but we have to be steadfast and we should do whatever is possible without the limited resources we have to make you better.”

Senator Lawan, however, said the government must take proactive measures to engage the youths as he identified illiteracy, unemployment and poverty, responsible for the exposure of youths to criminal tendencies.

The Senate President also advocated for the inclusion of Drug Education in the curricular for schools and institutions of learning in Nigeria.

Lawan’s words: “We also believe that the drug addiction level in Nigeria is so bad that we are losing our youths to drug addiction. Like you have mentioned, the terrorists, the insurgents, the bandits and almost all the criminals have recourse to taking drugs to enhance their courage in order to undertake their illicit activities.

“So, there then is the need for us to step up our work on preventing our youths from taking the drugs, and that requires a lot of multi-dimensional efforts, because some may be due to lack of employment, some illiteracy, and poverty generally.

“These are some of the root causes. Somebody out of frustration is recruited to join. And, therefore, this is also something that the National Assembly has been trying hard to ensure that the economy of Nigeria provides for everyone, that we have an all-inclusive economy bringing up those who are down.

“And I believe that this is one way that we have to continue to deal with this scourge. I also believe that we have to go on advocacy to our schools and institutions, and why not, even include in our curricular the issue of drugs, so that right from primary school up to secondary school level, our students should be able to understand the dangers of taking drugs.

“I believe that this is one incentive to criminality like you have just pointed out, so it is a huge responsibility placed on your shoulders, but you are not going to walk it alone, we are going to walk it with you.

“I want to urge you, that you get across to other agencies of government, like the immigration service, customs, airports authority, DSS – and the decay that you might have found is probably because the agency has not been able to have a better structure that will enable it to fight drug trafficking and even addiction of the 21st century.”

Earlier in his presentation, the Chairman of the NDLEA, Buba Marwa thanked the President of the Senate and Chairman National Assembly for the special interest he has shown in the agency.

He said his visit was intended to “call for urgent intervention from the Senate President,” warning that, “Nigeria is in a state of siege today.”

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