Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa has said that the removal of the clause which allows for an option of fine for drug offenders from the Agency’s Act currently undergoing amendment in the National Assembly will strengthen the deterrence effect of court prosecution and conviction.
Gen. Marwa stated this in his remarks while defending the 2022 NDLEA budget proposal before the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics chaired by Senator Hezekiah Dimka.
He said though he had visited the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Justice John Tsoho, on the issue of ridiculous options of fine given to some drug traffickers, he believes the removal of the clause that allows Judges to use discretionary powers to give options of fine would resolve the jigsaw.
While defending the N38.1 billion 2022 budget proposal, Gen. Marwa said though the allocation may not solve all the problems facing the agency, it is a great improvement on the previous budgets.
Marwa thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, the Finance Minister, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and more importantly, the leadership of the National Assembly and its committee on drugs and narcotics for giving the NDLEA the support needed to make the progress being talked about at the moment.
In his opening remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Hezekiah Dimka congratulated Gen. Marwa “for the successes recorded by the agency since his assumption of office”, adding that “there is no doubt that his approach and manner of operations to the fight against drug trafficking and abuse on our shores is extraordinary.”
Other members of the committee including the Vice-Chairman, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani expressed support for the good work the NDLEA is doing and promised to enhance and pass the budget to enable the agency to achieve greater feats next year.
A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted the application by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for the interim attachment of a vessel MV Chayaneenaree used to import 32.9 kilograms of cocaine into Nigeria through the Apapa Seaport in Lagos.
NDLEA spokesman, Femi Babafemin noted in a statement on Sunday that besides the attachment order, the court also granted NDLEAs request to detain the master of the ship, Mr. Tanahan Krilerk, and 21 foreign crewmembers as well as seven Nigerians arrested in connection to the case.
The anti-narcotic agency had on October 13 intercepted the ship at the Apapa Seaport following intelligence from international partners and support from other security forces such as the Nigerian Navy, Customs, DSS, and the police.
A thorough search of the ship led to the recovery of 30 parcels containing cocaine which weighed 32.9kg.
Investigations into the seizure have been yielding more arrests of suspected local collaborators, as a result of which the Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) on Tuesday 26th directed that an application to attach the ship and detain the suspects for two weeks pending the conclusion of investigation and filing of criminal charges against suspects be filed in court.
The application in suit no: FHC/L/CS/1518/2021, which was filed by the agency’s Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Joseph Nbone Sunday on Thursday 28th October was granted the following day Friday 29th October by Hon. Justice A.O. Awogboro.
According to the court ruling, an order of interim attachment was granted to the Federal Government of Nigeria over the Vessel MV Chayaneenaree used as an instrumentality of unlawful transportation and importation of 32.9 kilograms of cocaine seized by the applicant aboard the vessel on 13th October 2021 at Apapa Port pending investigation and filing of the charge and prosecution.
An order of remand was further granted to the Applicant to remand the Master of the Vessel, Mr. Tanahan Krilerk and 21 other crew members of the said Vessel and 7 other persons arrested in connection with the case for a period of fourteen days pending investigation and or filing of a criminal charge.
The case was thereafter adjourned till 25th November 2021 for the report of investigation.
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), says the agency has arrested over 8,634 suspected drug traffickers between January and August 2021.
Marwa, who disclosed this at the Human Rights, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, also explained that the NDLEA made seizures of more than N100 billion in drugs and cash during the period.
“Our consistent targeting of drug trafficking organisations has resulted in the arrest of 8,634 suspected drug traffickers and the seizure of over N100 billion in cash and drugs. Perpetrators will go through the criminal justice system, with their fundamental human rights being strictly upheld,” the NDLEA boss stated.
He added that, “against the backdrop of the strong linkage between illicit drug consumption and insecurity, it is worthy of note that Nigeria made its first seizure of 74.119 kg of Captagon brand of amphetamine, presumably destined for use, to fuel insurgency and other violent crimes and criminalities, which Nigeria is currently grappling with”.
Marwa assured the international community of Nigeria’s preparedness and determination to go after the assets of drug barons and traffickers in any part of the country.
“Nigeria will remain undaunted in adopting dynamic strategies to counter new approaches adopted by organised criminals, in order to make drug trafficking unattractive while ensuring forfeiture of the criminally-derived assets, a tested and powerful deterrent to the proliferation of drug crimes and criminalities,” he declared.
According to him, the Nigerian Government has exhibited political will by demonstrating high commitment to the protection of public health and safety with the launch of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign, a call for civil action for all Nigerians to buy in and take full ownership of the fight against the menace of illicit drugs.
“More so, Nigeria’s drug control efforts have received a tremendous thrust with unprecedented stakeholders’ involvement; we have engaged civil society groups, non-governmental organisations, academia and governments at all levels, public enlightenment is also being strengthened with remarkable media visibility, even as the youths are regularly sensitized on social media platforms on the ugly consequences of illicit drugs and related criminalities.
“Our consistent targeting of drug trafficking organisations has resulted in the arrest of 8,634 suspected drug traffickers and the seizure of over N100 billion in cash and drugs within the first eight months of this year. Perpetrators will go through the criminal justice system, with their fundamental human rights, being strictly upheld.”
Mr Marwa appreciated all international partners who he said: “in the spirit of shared responsibility, deserve to be appreciated for their great support through technical assistance, information and intelligence sharing, capacity building and training specifically in the area of countering the use of information and communication technology for criminal purposes”.
According to him, the partnerships have given a great boost to Nigeria’s counter-narcotics strategies.
The NDLEA boss further stated that Nigeria is happy to report that the EU-funded, UNODC sponsored Cannabis Cultivation Survey is expected to bring to the fore, the full extent of cannabis cultivation in Nigeria, and make it easier to target measures to contain this perennial menace.
He told the global gathering that appropriate strategies have also been adopted to address the stigmatisation of people who use drugs, including meeting the needs of vulnerable communities and groups such as women, girls, children (out of school and homeless), internally displaced persons and so on.
General Marwa explained how one of the challenges of the pandemic is the proliferation of online sales of drug cookies and use of courier services to move illicit drugs.
He, however, stressed that the agency has been able to intercept, trace and dismantle most of the drug cells involved.
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, continued their nationwide offensive action against drug traffickers in the past week, seizing hundreds of kilograms of illicit substances at the airports, courier firms, hideouts and destroying hectares of cannabis farms in remote forests.
According to the agency’s latest statement on Sunday, attempts by a female passenger, Isesele Obehi and one Emmanuel Chibuzor Omebere to allegedly export illicit drugs to Europe through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja were thwarted by narcotic officers who arrested them shortly before they boarded their flights.
NDLEA spokesman, Femi Babafemi explained that Isesele was nabbed on Saturday 11th September, 2021 during outward clearance of Ethiopian Airline flight at Gate B departure hall of the Lagos airport on her way to Milan, Italy with three hundred and twelve (312) sachets of Tramadol, weighing 1.5kg, concealed in crayfish and dried vegetables.
Chibuzor was equally caught with 137.45 grams of the same drug concealed in foodstuff at the Abuja airport on Thursday 2nd Sept during outward clearance of Turkish Airline flight to Istanbul, Turkey.
In the same vein, efforts by suspected traffickers to export varying sizes of consignments containing cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs through courier firms were also foiled.
Some of these include 475 grams of heroin concealed in food items going to Canada; 202 grams of cocaine hidden in body cream containers going to Australia; 720 grams of Cannabis Sativa tucked in computer hard drives heading to the United Arab Emirates, UAE and another 2.1kg of cannabis hidden in body cream bottles going to Oman, while 60 grams of cocaine concealed in degree certificates meant for Australia was also seized, all from three courier firms in Lagos.
Similarly, a 38-year-old pregnant woman, Kate Ngozi Nwuju was arrested on Tuesday 14th Sept. at her residence in Rumueme, Mile 4 area of Port Harcourt, Rivers State with 4.5 kilograms of cannabis following intelligence that she was selling drugs.
Also, one Aliyu Saidu, suspected to be a fake soldier was arrested with 2.3kg of Cannabis Sativa in a commercial bus from Lagos to Makurdi, on Monday 13th of Sept. at Aliade checkpoint, Benue State.
In Kano, one Shuaibu Yusuf, was arrested on Friday 17th Sept. with 537kg of Cannabis Sativa, concealed among bags of cement in a truck, while in Ogun state, five persons were arrested on Tuesday 14th Sept. after their truck conveying 552kg cannabis was intercepted at Ogere Remo, along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
In a related development, narcotic officers on motorised patrol on Friday 17th Sept. arrested a 21-year-old Law Ubi at Marian Road, Calabar, Cross River State with 67.4 kg cannabis while a follow up search of his residence the following day, Saturday, led to the recovery of 4.2 grams of cocaine from his apartment.
Meanwhile, in Edo, operatives stormed remote forests in the Ovia North East area of the state between 8th and 16th Sept, destroyed over 14 hectares of cannabis farms, and recovered 172.6kg of cannabis.
Three females and a male suspect were also arrested in raids across Owan East and Akoko Edo areas of the state. Different quantities of cannabis and local mixtures called monkey tail were recovered from them.
While commending the officers and men of the Lagos airport, Abuja airport, Benue, Kano, Ogun, Rivers, Cross River and Edo commands and the Directorate of Operation and General Investigation, DOGI, of the agency for maintaining the heat on drug dealers, the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa said their efforts further reaffirmed the agency’s determination to chase after drug traffickers and smoke them out.
Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa on Wednesday said N6 billion worth of drugs meant for insurgents were intercepted by the agency.
Marwa, who spoke at a media briefing to update the public on the seizure, said loads of Captagon, a brand of Amphetamine were intercepted by operatives of the agency at the Apapa Port in Lagos State.
According to him, sometime in March 2021, the agency received intelligence from its international partners on the shipment of illicit narcotics to Nigeria from the Middle East through the Apapa Port.
The container passed through three countries and was trans-loaded in a North African country, but the NDLEA kept track of it along with its partners, he explained.
READ ALSO: NYSC Member Nabbed As NDLEA Intercepts Drugged Candies From UK “We made the first attempt to examine the container on Thursday, August 26, 2021, and what we found inside the container were three (3) pieces of marble polishing machines, otherwise called sanders,” he said while narrating how the seizure was made.
“Further scrutiny on Monday, August 31, with the NDLEA sniffer dogs turned up a positive indication on the rotor coil of one of the three machines. The next day, Wednesday, 1st September, 18,560 tablets of a drug suspected to be Amphetamine (Captagon) weighing 3.2kg was found deeply concealed in one of the coils.
“The following day, Thursday, September 2, the other two machines were dismantled, and in all, a total of 451, 807 tablets, weighing 74.119 kilograms, were discovered hidden inside their rotor coils.
“Going by the street value of about $25 per tablet, the importer would have raised $11.3million, which is equivalent to N6 billion.
“Imagine the impact of this drug in the hands of criminal gangs or a fraction of the profit from its sale being used to fuel criminalities across the country, we can think of our worst-case scenarios and they will still be farther from the repercussions that could be unleashed on the country.
“It may interest you to know that, as far as we know, this is the first time this drug is being brought into any African country South of the Sahara. This tiny, highly addictive pill, widely available across the Middle East, produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing them to stay awake for days, making them fearless, predisposes them to reckless action that puts the lives of people around them in jeopardy.
“What should give any discerning Nigerian a nightmare concerning this drug is the fact that its production and sale is controlled by militias and large criminal groups in the Middle East. And beyond any doubt, Captagon has been linked to the escalation of the Syrian Civil War.
“A lot of seizures have been made since 2017, mostly in the Arabian Peninsula, and in Italy and Turkey, and the point of origination, almost all the time, were traced back to Syria and Lebanon. This gave rise to the theory that ISIS is behind the production and sale of Captagon as a means of generating funds for weapons and combatants, and for use as a stimulant to keep them fighting.
“Lest we forget, Captagon was the name of the drug found on the phone of the French-Tunisian terrorist who killed 84 civilians in France on Bastille Day in 2016. That is the drug we have on our hands now. If these facts are not grim enough, we should all remember a lesson from history, when in World War Two, Nazi Germany wreaked havoc across Europe with chemically-enhanced soldiers that the combined forces of Europe could not tame.
“This is the same condition we have presently with insurgents, bandits, cultists, robbers, kidnappers and herders spilling rampaging across the country.
“Given the dark and dangerous background of Captagon, it is not difficult to guess correctly that the destination for the seized drug is none other than the camps of insurgents and bandits all over the country.”
Marwa condemned the intent of those behind the importation of the illicit substance into the country at a very critical time when the nation is facing some security challenges.
The Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA vowed that the agency would not rest until everyone connected to the consignment was arrested and prosecuted.
Mr Marwa assured Nigerians that the agency would continue to work with support from local and international partners to block availability and access to illicit substances across the country.
He added that the NDLEA’s zero tolerance for production, trafficking and abuse of any illicit substance shows that the agency’s approach to this discovery was not casual.
The passing week has been a very eventful one globally with the world still battling COVID-19 and trying to adjust to the new reality.
Nigeria is never left a week without drama, as events continue to take different turns, leading the authorities to take certain drastic actions that got tongues wagging.
Having reviewed most of the major stories from the passing week, both locally and on the foreign scene, here are top quotes that tend to paint a vivid picture of what transpired and perhaps give us a hint of some things we must expect in the coming days:
1. “If I follow APC for this length of time, and they don’t give the Southeast an opportunity, I will feel bad.”
Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, says he will feel bad if the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not give the South-East a chance at the presidency, come 2023.
2. “I remain committed to his agenda for our great Nation and shall continue to support him in any way possible.”
Former Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, declares his support for the Muhammadu Buhari administration following his sack by the President.
3. “Today at the executive meeting, (party) president Suga said he wants to focus his efforts on anti-coronavirus measures and will not run in the leadership election.”
Secretary General of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Toshihiro Nikai, reveals that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will not run for re-election as party leader in September.
4. “The sooner the Taliban will enter the family of civilised people, so to speak, the easier it will be to contact, communicate, and somehow influence and ask questions.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes the Taliban will behave in a “civilised” manner in Afghanistan so the global community can maintain diplomatic ties with Kabul.
5. “I am the landlord, I didn’t give myself, the constitution gave me that power.”
Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku issues a stern warning to residents of the Mambilla Plateau, urging them not to sell lands to “selfish politicians” who storm the area in order to benefit from compensations meant for the Mambilla hydroelectric power project site.
6. “The report of the audit committee showed that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta and even before the submission of the report, some contractors have returned to site on their own and completed about 77 road projects.”
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio says the Forensic Audit Report of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) indicates that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects within the coastal region.
7. “Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users, this is the highest in the world, isn’t it sad?”
9. “This is to confirm to you that suspected kidnappers at about 06:45hrs along Lagos-Benin expressway, by Isuwa, kidnapped five unidentified persons and in the process shot to death one Sowore Felix Olajide, male, a pharmacy student of Igbinedion University, Okada.”
The Edo State Police Command confirms the murder of Olajide Sowore, brother to Sahara Reporters Publisher, Omoyele Sowore by suspected kidnappers.
10. “The trajectory into the future is bright. If you see some of the things we have been able to do under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to exit recession in record time, most established democracies are still battling with the recession.”
Despite the current challenges facing Nigeria, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, is optimistic that the nation’s trajectory is good.
11. “For us to reach the level of development that we need in our country, every part, segment and strata of the society must have a developed, deliberately focused leadership, so that what we do at the local level compliments what we do at the state level and from there, terminating at the apex – at the Federal level.”
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, attributes leadership deficit as one of the factors preventing Nigeria from achieving sustainable economic growth and development, and addressing insecurity and other socioeconomic problems.
12. “We apologize to anyone who may have seen these offensive recommendations.”
Facebook apologizes and disables its topic recommendation feature after it mistook Black men for “primates” in video at the social network.
13. “The committee is to identify grazing routes and work with states and map them. It is not to recover grazing routes, it is to identify the scale of the problem.”
Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, argues that mapping out grazing routes will help to identify the scale of the herder-farmer crisis.
14. “Police have located the man and he has been shot. He has died at the scene.”
Authorities in New Zealand speak after police shoot dead a man who wounded six people in an attack at an Auckland supermarket.
18. “If you look at the President’s statement, in no place will you see that; not at all. In no place will you see those words that performance was weak, he didn’t say that.”
President Buhari’s media adviser, Femi Adesina, makes clarifications regarding the sacking of two ministers.
19. “Well, it happened because, perhaps for the first time in the history of the country, and of the NNPC, there is a President who is not using the place like a personal Automated Teller Machine (ATM).”
The Media Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, explains why the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently declared profit.
A 22-year-old youth corps member, Arnold Maniru has been arrested in Abuja for allegedly importing four kilograms of drugged candies from the United Kingdom.
This is according to a statement by the spokesman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Femi Babafemi.
In its communique, the NDLEA said the suspect serving with a government agency in Abuja was arrested on Saturday 28th August, 2021 following the interception of a consignment at the warehouse of a transport company.
A controlled delivery of the parcel, which contains the candies laced with Arizona, a strong variant of cannabis and some liquid, was subsequently carried out.
In a similar vein, operatives attached to courier companies in Lagos have intercepted 1.2kg of cannabis concealed inside locally made cookies going to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 920 grams of cocaine hidden inside synthetic hair heading to Saudi Arabia.
Another 1.08kg of cannabis concealed in spray cans going to Pakistan and 625 grams of methamphetamine hidden in clothing heading to Australia were also seized.
According to Mr Babafemi, operatives across the states have intensified arrests of traffickers and seizures of illicit drugs.
He said a total of 384.7 kilograms of assorted narcotics being transported to the nation’s capital, Abuja for sale were intercepted and seized at patrol points in Lokoja, Kogi State on Monday 30th August and Thursday 2nd September, 2021.
The NDLEA image-maker further disclosed that a truck with registration number Plateau AA 462 QAP, driven by a 50-year-old Danlami Dodo, coming from Onitsha, Anambra, with Abuja, FCT as its destination, was intercepted at a patrol point in Lokoja.
“Upon a search, the following psychoactive substances were discovered packed in sacks and cartons:
“1,975 bottles of Cough Syrup with Codeine weighing 282kg; 199 packets of Exol-5 tablets weighing 75.4kg; 250 packets of Diazepam tablets weighing 15.4kg; Cannabis Sativa weighing 5.9kg; and 1 packet of Ketamine injection, all weighing 378.7kilograms,” the spokesman added.
Also on Thursday, a Toyota Hiace bus with registration number Lagos MUS 716 XK, coming from Ojota, Lagos to Abuja was stopped and searched at the Lokoja patrol point, where 6kg of Arizona was found sealed in cartons and stuffed in a white sack.
Meanwhile, in Rivers state, one Obey James was arrested during a raid with 4.2 grams of heroin; 1.9 grams of cocaine and 5.4 grams of methamphetamine while in Niger state, two suspects; Eze John and Michael Ifediegwu were arrested along Zungeru-Tegina road with 18kg of Exol 5; 2kg of Tramadol and 1000 ampoules of pentazocine injection, all going to Kontagora in the state.
In another related development, a suspected Kano drug dealer, Chiduzie Ibegbunam, was arrested with 16.8 grams of cocaine and 0.6 grams of heroin while 158,000 monetary exhibits were recovered from him when his joint was raided.
While giving details of exploits by agents of the NDLEA, Mr Babafemi added that in Nasarawa State, 22 suspects were arrested and 43.9 kilograms of illicit drugs seized when operatives stormed notorious drug joints in Gadabuke forest, Toto LGA and Down Base/Timber Shed both in Nasarawa LGA, dismantling and setting ablaze their makeshift homes.
Borno State was not left out, as one Caleb Okezuonu was arrested with 352 bottles of Codeine Syrup and 876 tablets of Rohypnol during a raid.
“Curiously, Caleb is on court bail, for two earlier charges filed against him by the state command of the NDLEA. The latest arrest makes it his third arrest for drug offences,” the agency’s spokesperson remarked.
According to him, during the raid, 11.5 grams of Tramadol and N307, 255 monetary exhibits were recovered from another suspect who escaped and has been declared wanted.
In another development, a military operative in Ebonyi State, Anayo Nwamban, who bought 1.1kg of cannabis from Mami Market, planted the same in his elder brother’s house and then made a report to the NDLEA office, seeking to implicate his brother.
The personnel was arrested on Friday 3rd September, following the testimony of his supplier who had earlier been apprehended. Having no more alibis, the officer admitted to purchasing and planting the cannabis in his own brother’s house.
In reaction to the arrests and seizures in the past week across the FCT, Kogi, Rivers, Kano, Niger, Borno, Nasarawa and Ebonyi state commands as well as the Directorate of Operation and General Investigations, the NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa commended the commanders, officers and men of the commands for keeping the flame burning and maintaining the heat on drug traffickers and dealers.
Gen Marwa assured them that President Muhammadu Buhari is aware of their efforts and remains committed to improving their welfare as they intensify the ongoing war against drug abuse and trafficking across the country.
Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa says premarital drug test is a key factor in attaining a stable home.
According to a statement by the agency’s spokesman, Femi Babafemi, the NDLEA boss spoke at a conference organized by an NGO, Coal to Diamond Support Network for young adults on Saturday in Abuja.
He said “if would-be couples choose to undergo HIV and genotype tests before marriage without any law compelling them, then, they should equally consider drug tests as critical to their well-being and stability of their home”.
While warning on the dire consequences of drug abuse, Gen. Marwa who was represented by a Principal Staff Officer on Drug Demand Reduction in the NDLEA, Shehu Dankolo, said substance use does not only destroy marriages but equally leads to health problems, morbidity, injuries, violence, and death.
He added that most often, the physical, psychological and social consequences of drug use are very obvious and disturbing.
According to him, the mental, physical and spiritual quality of life of individuals has definite impact on a society’s future.
In her remarks, the wife of the NDLEA boss, Munirat Marwa who was the host of the event, urged youths preparing for weddings to take a drug test as part of their preparations, adding that there is a difference between wedding and marriage.
“The wedding as we all know it is a short time event while marriage is intended for a lifetime,” she said.
“As such, the conference has come at the right time when couples are putting more importance and emphasis on the wedding festivities rather than the marriage itself.
“It is therefore important we pay attention to preparing for the marriage and one of such ways is through premarital counseling and drug test. This prepares the couples very well and has the ability to reduce domestic violence, divorce as well as increase happiness and longevity in marriages’”.
Other notable speakers at the conference include wife of former Vice President Namadi Sambo, Amina Namadi Sambo; President of the Group, Bilkisu Mohammed and the keynote speaker, Said Takuma who all emphasized the need for proper counseling for would-be couples to safeguard their marriages and future.
The Chairman and Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. General Mohamed Buba Marwa has warned that current moves by some stakeholders to push for the legalisation of cannabis in Nigeria will rob the country of the gains so far made in the renewed war against drug abuse and trafficking in the country.
The NDLEA boss spoke in Abuja on Wednesday at a national security summit organised by the House of Representatives. He said the present figure of 10.6million Nigerians abusing cannabis is frightening and enough to sound the alarm bell.
“Should we have such a law, we will soon become a nation of junkies and criminals. As such, I will like to caution that our lawmakers should not legalise cannabis because it will amount to taking a step forward and ten steps backward.
“It will no doubt rob the nation of recent gains in the war against illicit drugs. In less than four months, we have been able to mop up over two million kilograms of illicit drugs, with over N90billion worth of illicit substances seized.
“Imagine if a fraction of this had found its way into our streets. We can’t be holding a national security summit and at the same time considering legalising illicit substances,” Marwa noted.
These comments come about five months after the drug law enforcement agency’s boss assumed office, pledging to overhaul and expand the agency to effectively deal with the menace of drug abuse in the country.
The ex-governor who headed the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse said the revamping will be done in line with the recommendations of the committee.
Further addressing the summit, Brig. General Marwa said there is presently no bigger national issue than the issue of insecurity in Nigeria, adding that the relationship between substance abuse and crime is a fact.
“So beyond speculations and armchair theories, there is ample evidence, from report statistics and from empirical data from the field, to conclude that the use of illicit substances is a contributing factor to the worsening security situation in Nigeria. And if this is so, Nigeria should be the last country to consider a law to legalise marijuana in any shape or form,” the NDLEA boss stated.
The NDLEA’s Chief Executive commended the organisers of the summit, saying it could not have come at a better time. He urged Nigerians to stand up and take ownership of the fight against insecurity in the country.
Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brig. General Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) has said the agency is pressing on with its offensive action against illicit drugs production laboratories and farms because of the threat they pose to Nigeria’s national security.
Gen. Marwa stated this in his presentation on the national drug control master plan at a side event at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs conference taking place in Vienna, Austria.
According to him, “Nigeria was traditionally considered a transit country for drug trafficking. Now the problem is much bigger as different categories of drugs are produced, consumed, and trafficked in the country. Drugs trafficked include cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and psychotropic substances including methamphetamine and tramadol.
“Cannabis is cultivated in different parts of the country and there is evidence of methamphetamine producing laboratories. NDLEA has destroyed thousands of hectares of cannabis cultivated land as well as 18 methamphetamine manufacturing laboratories.”
He said a situation where the drug use prevalence in Nigeria is 14.4 % is unacceptable and as such every necessary step must be taken to reverse the trend. “The drug use prevalence in Nigerians aged between 15 and 64 years is approximately 15 percent and it is three times the global drug use prevalence of 5.5 per cent.
“Cannabis used by 10.6 million Nigerians is the most common used drug followed by opioids with 4.6 million including tramadol. This is in addition to the fact that 1 in every 4 individuals using drugs is a woman and 1 in 5 who had used drug in the past year is suffering from drug user disorder”, he explained based on a UNODC survey report.
He said NDLEA remains committed as Nigeria’s premier drug control agency with the mandate to “provide effective and efficient services to Nigerians by cutting off the supply of and reducing the demand for illicit drugs and other substances of abuse, tracing and recovering drug-related proceeds, and contributing to the creation and maintenance of an enviable image for the nation within the global community.
Explaining the essence of the National Drug Control Master Plan, NDCMP, the NDLEA boss said it “is comprehensive and balanced as it focuses on drugs not only from law-and-order perspectives but also as a public health and education issue. It provides balanced solutions to issues of drug demand and supply, and ensures access to controlled medicines for medical and scientific purposes.”
“In developing the NDCMP 2021 -2025, effort was made to ensure that the document is aligned and harmonized with the existing international and regional conventions. It also benefitted from lessons learned from earlier phases of NDCMP, and good practices from Nigeria, West Africa, and around the world. The NDCMP also contributes to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-3 to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’, to ‘strengthen prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol”, he added.
German Government Lauds NDLEA For Operational Efficiency
Meanwhile, the German Government has applauded National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for its “professionalism and operational excellence” in preventing and countering drug trafficking. The commendation was handed down by the Vice President of the German Federal Criminal Investigation Office, Michael Kretschmer during a visit to the national headquarters of the Agency.
According to Kreschmer, “We are here to acknowledge your consistent excellent performance over the years. Your indices are professional and reliable. I am here to appreciate your professional work and to ascertain whether our intervention meets your needs and to also find out your general impression of our collaborative efforts”.
The German Police Chief noted that through the NDLEA/German Government Canine Project, the Agency has been able to seize huge quantities of drugs. “But the truth is, it is your work and diligence that have about these operational accomplishments. You have extremely committed canine officers. We have met the dogs donated to you by the German Government in very good shape”, Kreschmer noted.
Chairman/Chief Executive, NDLEA, Brig. General Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd.) noted that the story of NDLEA could not be written without the interventions of the German Government. “The Agency is the leading capability in the use of canine for its operations. The German Government is singularly instrumental to this capability through its generous donations of dogs, vehicles and continuous training of our staff”.
According to the NDLEA Chairman, the NDLEA/German Government Canine Project which started in 2010 has yielded 26 major arrests, leading to the seizure of 17, 932 metric tons of sundry drugs within the country. A total of nine (9) officers have so far been trained on various levels of narcotics detection dog handling proficiency and total of 14 Narcotic detection dogs have so far been donated to the Agency by the German government. This is in addition to the donation of two new Toyota Haice buses and a Mercedes Vito van. “These numerous donations have made such a tremendous impact on the operations of the Agency at the international airports, sea ports and land borders”, the Chairman remarked.
The collaboration between the Agency and the German BKA is to culminate in the establishment of an academy in Nigeria dedicated for the breeding of canine and the building of capacity of canine officers.
The Academy is to meet the canine needs of other crime combating agencies in Nigeria.