Substance abuse, mother of all crimes, says Marwa
Senate President Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, said that the insecurity in the country was caused by activities of drug barons, whom he claimed were lending financial support to Boko Haram insurgents, bandits and kidnappers. Lawan, who made the assertion when the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig-Gen.
Buba Marwa (rtd), visited him at the National Assembly, Abuja, hinted that the drug barons provided the insurgents with arms and ammunition, with which they terrorized citizens cross the country. This was as the NDLEA boss declared that drug abuse, which he described as the greatest menace in the country, was the mother of all crimes and criminalities tormenting Nigeria at the moment.
Reacting to Marwa’s presentation, Lawan hinted that the drug barons, who engaged in trafficking heroine, cannabis and cocaine, had made Nigeria a major transit route for plying the illicit trade, saying that this was responsible for the overwhelming increase in criminality in the country. Consequently, he called for the restructuring of the NDLEA so as to further empower it to rise to the occasion of clamping down on the criminal activities of drug traffickers operating in the country.
He assured that the National Assembly would support the agency in the aspect of amending the NDLEA Act with a view to enabling the agency achieve its core mandates. He said: “The National Assembly members are almost on a daily interaction with our constituents and we know the very debilitating impact of drug abuse in our various communities.
“You have rightly said almost every community in this country suffers from drug addiction. So, we are very mindful of what is happening. I believe that this agency needs restructuring. Now that you have taken over, we should go the whole haul to restructure the agency, not piece meal touches, because we need to get it right. “My personal opinion is that NDLEA should be in the league of EFCC, ICPC, and therefore, the kind of support that those two agencies I mentioned receive, you should receive something like that, in addition to many other things that you should be supported with.
“So, the National Assembly will definitely work with you, we will partner with you, and will ensure that we do our best to give you the kind of support that will enable you properly to discharge your mandate. “Having said this, let me say that Nigeria as a country is in one way or the other a transit route for drugs. Drug peddlers pass their drugs through Nigeria – cannabis, heroin and possibly even cocaine.
“We believe that this has to stop, because the proceeds of such activities fund terrorism, they fund banditry, you wonder how the bandits have RPGs and these massive arms that they have. Definitely, these are some acquisitions provided by some barons, not the bandits themselves.
“So, we need to ensure that this transit role that Nigerians play is addressed properly. And here we have to approach this through multi-sectoral efforts – the Customs, Immigration Service, our security agencies, and in fact, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and our seaports. “Of course, this is not going to be easy, but we have to be steadfast and we should do whatever is possible within the limited resources we have to make you better.”
Commenting on how to tackle the menace of drug addiction in Nigeria, Lawan stressed the need for multi-dimensional efforts across the various agencies of governments aimed at tackling underlying causes such as illiteracy, unemployment and poverty, responsible for the exposure of youths to criminal tendencies.
The Senate President also advocated for the inclusion of Drug Education in the curricular for schools and institutions of learning in Nigeria, to educate the children and youths on the dangers of drug abuse. Speaking earlier on the purpose of his visit, Marwa said that he came to intimate the President of the Senate with the challenges facing the establishment and to solicit assistance, to enable it serve Nigeria better. Marwa further raised the alarm that the drug addiction scourge was largely responsible for acts of criminalities which had pervaded all parts of the country, saying that the resultant effect of the ugly trend was the increasing spate of insecurity in the country lately.
“Yes, you have insurgency, banditry and kidnapping, but if you go to Ogoni to speak to somebody about insurgency, he might not be concerned. If you go to some other parts of the country and speak of kidnapping in some areas, it’s not a major concern. If you go to some other areas and speak of banditry, it may not be of major concern. “But when you enter the realm of drug abuse, every part of Nigeria, you can for sure say that everybody in this room knows somebody, or a neighbour or family that has affliction with drug abuse. The drug affliction is actually the number one problem we are facing; it is everywhere. “First of all, it destroys our kids, women, our youths, and the family system. Second, it is behind the criminalities everywhere now. “You have to be crazy to commit some of these criminalities, and what fuels it is drug abuse. Even the insurgents and bandits themselves, they take drugs before they go into their activities,” Marwa lamented.