Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (rtd), chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on Thursday, disclosed before the House of Representatives that his agency intercepted and destroyed illicit drugs worth over N60billion in six weeks.
Marwa, a former military governor of Lagos and Borno States, made the disclosure to the House Committee on Drugs and Narcotics chaired by Francis Ottah Agbo, while on an advocacy visit to the committee.
In the course of briefing the committee on the needs of the NDLEA, he lamented the decay and challenges of the agency.
“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. 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 need to be trained and upgraded, but there is no money to do that. The training institutions at the agency, are dilapidated, and there is 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.
The NDLEA boss also told the committee, that “all of our staff are owed either travelling, training or death benefits, that are not paid”.
He, therefore, begged the committee to intervene on more funding for the agency to perform better.
He added that, “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”.
Agbo, in his response, said:
“ I want to especially 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”.
He commended Marwa for “being a turnaround expert. Just like the late Prof. Dora Akunyili turned round NAFDAC, you are going to do better”.
He buttressed the NDLEA boss’ earlier observation that the agency “is understaffed, underpaid and unequipped”.
He disclosed that the committee “approved money for a transit house. 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 further stated that the committee, also “approved 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.”