Newly appointed Chairman/CEO of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd), on Monday resumed at the headquarters of the agency in Abuja with a strong warning to drug barons and traffickers to back out of the illicit trade or be ready for hard times.
At his meeting with the management team of the agency, Marwa warned that Nigeria could no longer fold its hand and watch the rising cases of drug abuse in the country.
He said: “I would like to warn those who engage in the dastardly trade of importation, export, cultivation, processing, manufacture, trafficking, sale, and consumption of illicit substances to stop forthwith or be prepared to contend with the NDLEA. The NDLEA will safeguard the nation and our youths from the drug menace. That is a task that must be done”.
Marwa said, “It is the task of NDLEA to stop all this unacceptable nonsense of drug abuse in Nigeria. Together, by the grace of God, we will resuscitate and reposition NDLEA to full active life, to be effective, respected and feared by the concerned criminals. Nigeria is the only country we have; we cannot fold our arms. We can, will, and must eliminate the drug scourge.”
He said as the key agency in the drug war in Nigeria, “you are all too familiar with the extent of devastation that drug use has caused our nation. Drug use has eaten very deep into our social fabric as every community in Nigeria is affected.
“It needs repeating that the number of drug users in Nigeria now of all ages must be well over 15 million. If we extrapolate the figures of the recent UNODC survey of 2018 where 14.3 million Nigerians between the ages of 15-64 were found to be drug users, at that time nearly 3 times the global prevalence.”
While condemning a situation where drug use has eaten very deep into the nation’s social fabric with over 15 million Nigerians of all ages now hooked on drug, he said: “NDLEA will be overhauled and expanded in line with the PACEDA recommendations, existing financial constraints, and the authorisation of the appropriate superior authorities.”
“We will put equal efforts in drug demand reduction as contained in the NDLEA act. We will develop a strategy of work to meet our objectives, following the National Drug Control Masterplan 2021-2025 to be released soon, as our roadmap”, he added.
He assured the staff of the agency that their welfare will be a priority while demanding discipline and dedication to duty from them.
Assuring men and officers of the force that their welfare will be given the utmost attention, Marwa said, “The outstanding issues of stagnation in rank, training and postings and due emoluments, will be addressed as a priority. Also, operational and logistical inadequacies in the service will be looked into.”
He added, “Discipline must remain our priority and topmost. It is the bedrock of an organisation such as ours. With my military background, you know what to expect.”
Marwa, a former military governor of Lagos State, served as the chair of the Presidential Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) before his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari as the NDLEA chief executive last week.