Senate President, Ahmad Lawan
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has attributed the lingering insecurity to the funding activities of drug barons who provide insurgent groups such as Boko Haram, bandits, and kidnappers with arms and ammunitions to undertake criminal activities in the country.
Lawan made this known when the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (Rtd), paid a visit to his office on Thursday at the National Assembly, Abuja.
According to him, such drug barons who engage in trafficking heroine, cannabis, and cocaine have made Nigeria a major transit route for plying the illicit trade, which he added, was responsible for the rise in criminality in the country.
The Senate President, therefore, called for the restructuring of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (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 to 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 piecemeal 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 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.”
Speaking on the drug addiction rate in Nigeria, Lawan underscored 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.
Lawan’s words: “We also believe that the drug addiction level in Nigeria is so bad that we are loosing 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.