The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, says President Muhammadu Buhari is the brain behind its recent successes in the war against illicit drugs and substances.
The NDLEA Chairman, Brigadier General Buba Marwa (Rtd) made the declaration on Thursday, at the weekly briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team.
Marwa said the political will and determination of President Muhammadu Buhari has galvanised the officers and men of the agency to do more in serving their fatherland.
He said: “It is prudent for me to state upfront that a progress report of the NDLEA should not be taken as an isolated appraisal; rather, it should be taken as an integral part of the anti-drug trafficking thrust of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Not only did the President set the tone for the fight against illicit drugs by handing the Agency the mandate, the direction and the set objectives, he also provided the catalyst, willpower, financial intervention and moral support that boosted NDLEA’s capability to deliver.
“Coupled with the technical support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, the fight against illicit drugs has never been this intense, focused or impactful in Nigeria’s history. Expectedly, the results have been justifying.”
Marwa stated that ”the Agency’s tempo is high as it remains determined to comb the nooks and crannies of the country in search of drug barons, to arrest and jail them, based on the provisions of the NDLEA Act.”
“Without mincing words, the fight against trafficking in illicit substances is in full swing. This is the status quo since January 25, 2021, when NDLEA launched Operation Offensive Action to spearhead the renewed war against illicit substances. Up till this moment, the tempo remains high. Now and for many months to come, the Agency will sustain the momentum of its anti-drug activities across the length and breadth of Nigeria,” he explained.
The NDLEA Chief Executive noted that the anti-drug trafficking agenda can hardly be prosecuted without the Agency first going through a reform process to transform it into an efficient drug control apparatus.
He further said; “The situation I met on the ground at the beginning of the year when I was appointed as Chairman/Chief Executive was a far cry from the ideal. The NDLEA at the time was decrepit, grossly incapacitated, hampered by institutional encumbrances, poorly funded and understaffed, and had a meagre officers and men working in parlous conditions and under disenchanting circumstances.
“Hence, the starting point was to find a way to reinvigorate the NDLEA workforce. That we have done through several impact measures, which among others included the promotion of 3, 506 officers whose careers had stagnated for as long as 20 years. Sequel to that, we also made spirited efforts to clear a pile of unpaid entitlements, including burial expenses to the families of 188 officers who died in the line of duty owed since 2014. And for serving operatives, we put in place a bi-monthly reward system in addition to other career incentives.
”To avoid a relapse, the leadership set in motion a seamless process of continuous revision and upgrade of welfare and work conditions requisite for the emergence of a world-class anti-narcotic agency.
“Part of this process includes the proposed new salary structure, awaiting approval and implementation and the payment of Group Personnel Accident insurance, of which premiums have not been paid since 2014. But now, the Agency has tied up the loose ends and our officers and men are now eligible for prompt indemnities for permanent/temporary disability, medical expenses, injuries sustained in the line of duty and death. Their efficiency on the field has also been boosted with the distribution of vehicles and equipment including arms and ammunition to the various commands.”
According to the NDLEA Boss, the Act establishing the agency is being reviewed and there are plans to recruit more personnel, to enhance efficiency.
Marwa said; “To complete the overhaul process, we have invigorated the process of amending the NDLEA Act, to provide a more robust legal framework to deal with current drug trafficking and abuse challenges.
”As a matter of necessity, we have also had to scale up our workforce by resuming the suspended 2019 recruitment and training of 5, 000 operatives, with more to join in the months ahead. Once the process is completed, the agency’s workforce will have doubled by 200% by mid-2022.”
“The imperative of sustained efficiency also necessitated the creation of new directorates, namely: Directorate of Planning, Research & Statistics; Directorate of Special Duties and Strike Force; Directorate of Media and Advocacy; Directorate of Airport Operations.
“Presently, the training of our Strike Force corps at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry has entered a closing phase. The creation of the Strike Force is an indication that NDLEA has upgraded the fight against illicit drugs in Nigeria to a full-scale onslaught that is being prosecuted with full strength,” he stated.
Marwa announced that the NDLEA has so far seized drugs and substances worth one billion naira, stressing that the agency would soon receive from support Germany, worth two million Euros.
He added that the money would be used to establish a Dog Training Centre, to be used for training of the Agency’s sniffer dogs.