NDLEA seeks amendment of existing act, proposes drug attaché in embassies

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Thursday presented to the Senate, a proposal seeking to amend its existing act to allow the agency has drug attaché in foreign Embassies across the world.

Making his presentation before the Senate Committee on Drug and Narcotics during a public hearing on the Bill to amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Act, the Director-General/Secretary of the NDLEA, Shadrach Haruna, who represented the Chairman of the Agency, Mohammed Buba Marwa, in his presentation canvassed for amendment of Section 45 to empower the Agency to appoint Drug Attachés to any country of choice in consultation with the Ministry in charge of Foreign Affairs.

According to Haruna, Section 45 is to be amended by adding the following new subsection (3): “(3) The Agency May in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or any Ministry known by whatsoever name responsible for foreign affairs of the country, appoint a drug attaché from amongst its staff to serve in any Nigerian diplomatic mission abroad.”

A member of the Senate Committee, Senator Raheem Oloriegbe, however, expressed reservations over the proposed amendment as he noted that the cost implication could be enormous and overwhelming for the nation.

He said: “I saw where you are proposing the appointment of drug attachés in every mission or as may be necessary which is not there before. Do you know the cost implication of that vis-a-vis the load of work and then the relevance of that in all our missions abroad?

“Now, even the staff that we have who are the core staff, there are challenges in terms of payments. What you are trying to do is to create another corps that would be on drug desks in other countries and what kind or work will they be doing on a day-by-day basis and will be a drain on national resources? I have concerns on this and unless you are able to convince us.”

The DG of the NDLEA, however, said the proposal was the agency response to requests from foreign drug agencies, adding that “we find that some countries really require the assistance of our drug attachés.

“We have seen that even Section 45 of the NDLEA law as presently couched grants the Agency powers to request for information of competent Nigerians abroad to enable us to follow up with investigation at home. However, we felt that just like we have liaison magistrates of foreign countries in Nigeria giving us assistance in other areas we also need to do that because we have had requests from so many countries saying that drug attachés from Nigeria will be needed to ensure that they have a comprehensive approach to investigations in their own countries.

“There is a need for drug attachés to support the investigations of Nigerians committing drug crimes abroad. We have so many Nigerians in some countries abroad that the drug agencies in those countries will actually require the assistance of Nigerians particularly in language issues.”

Earlier in his remarks on behalf of President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, Senator Oloriegbe, said the Senate has severally shown commitment to addressing the unsavoury “degeneration of our values through drugs and other substances considering our concerted quest for growth.”

“The bill before us is yet another attempt at strengthening the regulatory mechanism on drug abuse following identified loopholes in the extant law.

“This amendment also flows from the regular trend of reviewing or updating laws after operational experiences as a step towards perfection.”

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Senator Hezekiah Ayuba Dimka, said the amendment of the NDLEA Act was long overdue and expressed the hope that the proposed amendment would be far-reaching.

“There is no doubt that the NDLEA Act Cap L90 is now overdue for amendment as the agency has experienced and learnt some lessons in the course of operating an med enforcing the Act.

“It is therefore hoped that this time around, the process of the amendment will be far-reaching, all-embracing and concluded n order to bring the amendment Act into force.”

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