DRUG WAR: SENATE COMMITTEE COMMENDS MARWA, ASSURES NDLEA OF PARTNERSHIP, SUPPORT
The Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics has commended the leadership of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for its unrelenting war against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking, assuring of its preparedness and commitment to partner and support the agency to succeed in its onerous task of ridding Nigeria of the drug menace.
The assurance was given after the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) briefed the Committee on the activities, challenges and achievements of the agency in the last 34 months at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.
While briefing the committee on Tuesday 7th November, Marwa said the global supply and demand of illicit drugs, including opioids and synthetic drugs has exacerbated the world drug problem, with devastating impact on people and their well-being across borders and continents.
According to him, Families, communities, young people and old men and women and indeed the very fabric of our society is daily being destroyed by drug abuse. He added that the scourge is at the basis of the security challenges facing not only Nigeria but other nations and as such, no effort must be spared in addressing the problem.
Speaking on some of its achievements in the areas of drug demand reduction and drug supply reduction, Marwa said The agency re-ignited its intelligence-based enforcement capabilities, focusing on drug barons and cartels, with a view to cutting off supplies and taking illicit drugs away from our streets. This is yielding positive results with the arrest of 36,096 drug traffickers, among them 40 barons, between January 2021 and September 2023. The agency has recorded seizures of 6,668 tons of drugs, worth over N635 billion. About 957.319 hectares of cannabis farms have been destroyed across 12 states within the period under review, while we successfully prosecuted and got convictions in 6,043 cases. Presently, there are 11,166 pending cases in Federal High Court across the country. And between January 2021 and September 2023, over 27,432 drug-dependent individuals have been counselled and discharged from our counselling and treatment facilities across the country.”
He highlighted some of the challenges facing the agency to include: inadequate funding, dearth of standard rehabilitation centres, lack of operational boats and vehicles, forensic laboratories and poor salary structure for personnel among others.
He noted that the modest achievements recorded by the agency in the past months couldnt have been possible without the backing of the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. We are hopeful that we will get even more impactful support from the 10th Senate. We look forward to your assistance in taking care of some Gordian knots that can only be solved by legislative means, he added.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Senator Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo said I want to assure you that the newly inaugurated members of the committee are fully committed to working with the NDLEA. All the members have assured that they would contribute and do their best in working to eradicate the use of illicit drugs and narcotics in Nigeria. We will consider the possibility of having an emergency summit on drugs because of the seriousness of the issue.
Also speaking, Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Osita Ngwu said We are so glad that the NDLEA is working and we are seeing the results. Over 6000 tons of drugs confiscated is not a joke. I use this medium to encourage you, and whatever support you need from our end, we will give. We are all passionate about reducing drug demand, if we dont deal with it now, it will destroy us. Whatever support we can give we will provide for you to continue this fight, so that we can take drugs off our streets and make our youth useful. We are all going to work together by all means to make sure that all we discussed here will be put in process.
Other members of the committee who spoke toed the same line of commendation and assurance while they all agreed to fast track the amendment of the NDLEA Act earlier passed by the 9th Senate but returned to the 10th Senate because it lapsed.