Politics

Insecurity: Lawan’s shocking revelation

CHUKWU DAVID reports that the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, while playing host to the Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. -Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), last week, accused drug barons of sponsoring terrorism and banditry in Nigeria

 

The Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. General Buba Marwa (rtd) alongside the management team of the agency, last week Thursday, visited the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his National Assembly office, Abuja.

 

In his speech during the visit, Marwa told Lawan and other senators present that he came to intimate the lawmakers with the challenges facing the agency and to solicit assistance to enable him reposition the agency for it to serve the country better.

 

Marwa also said that the Ninth Senate under the leadership of Lawan, had shown sufficient interest and support towards the review of the NDLEA Act, expressing optimism that such was a very important step towards correcting some of the lapses in an Act that was promulgated in 1989.

 

He, however, raised the alarm that the drug addiction scourge among youths and teenagers was largely responsible for acts of criminalities menacing all parts of the country, saying that the resultant effect of the ugly trend was the increasing incidences insecurity in the country lately.

 

His words: “Yes, we 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, youths and the family system. Secondly, 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 take drugs before they go into their activities.”

 

While responding to the statement by Marwa, the President of the Senate, said that the persistent and worsening security challenges in the country was caused by activities of drug barons, whom he accused of lending financial support to Boko Haram insurgents, bandits and kidnappers.

 

Lawan said that the drug barons provide the insurgents with arms and ammunitions, with which they terrorized citizens across the country, thereby making the Federal Government efforts to end the war against the insurgents to linger.

 

The Senate President also noted that the drug barons, who engage in trafficking heroine, cannabis and cocaine have 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. Lawan assured Marwa and members of his management team that the National Assembly will 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 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (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 acquisition provided by some barons, not the bandits themselves.

 

“So, we need to ensure that this transit role that Nigerians plays 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 without 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.

 

He also advocated for the inclusion of drug education in the curricular for schools and institutions of learning in Nigeria in order to educate youths on the dangers of drug abuse.

 

His words: “We also believe that the drug addiction level in Nigeria is so bad that we are losing our youths to drug addiction. Like you have mentioned, the terrorists, the insurgents, the bandits and almost all the criminals have recourse to taking drugs to enhance their courage in order to undertake their illicit activities. “So, there then is the need for us to step up our work on preventing our youths from taking the drugs, and that requires a lot of multi-dimensional efforts, because some may be due to lack of employment, some illiteracy, and poverty generally.

 

“These are some of the root causes. Somebody out of frustration is recruited to join. And, therefore, this is also something that the National Assembly has been trying hard to ensure that the economy of Nigeria provides for everyone; that we have an all=inclusive economy bringing up those who are down.

 

“And I believe that this is one way that we have to continue to deal with this scourge. I also believe that we have to go on advocacy to our schools and institutions, and why not, even include in our curricular the issue of drugs, so that right from primary school up to secondary school level, our students should be able to understand the dangers of taking drugs.

 

“I believe that this is one incentive to criminality like you have just pointed out, so it is a huge responsibility placed on your shoulders, but you are not going to walk it alone, we are going to walk it with you.

 

“I want to urge you, that you get across to other agencies of government; like the Immigration Service, Customs, airports authority, Department of State Services (DSS) and the decay that you might have found is probably because the agency has not been able to have a better structure that will enable it fight drug trafficking and even addiction of the 21st century.”

 

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