By Emma Njoku
The ongoing amendment of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency’s (NDLEA) Act at the National Assembly will further boost the country’s fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking.
Chairman, NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd), who stated this in his opening remarks at the NDLEA Special Purpose Committee Conference in Abuja, yesterday, disclosed that some of the details of the new bill, which is in its final stage of being passed, will strengthen the hand of the agency and discourage trafficking of illicit substances because of the stringent punishment measures stipulated for drug offences.
Marwa urged well-spirited Nigerians to join the fight against the drug scourge which, he noted, is not in every family, but exists in every community.
He said: “Let me state from the onset that contrary to a recent report that the drug abuse problem is in every household in Nigeria, I’ll like to correct that misrepresentation and state that there are, indeed, families not afflicted by this menace. However, that we can’t say of the communities. It is almost certain that every community has this problem. That said, I would like to assure that the NDLEA Act is presently in its final stage of its amendment at the National Assembly. It’s a private bill sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Senator Hezekiah Dimka, and it will, among other things, remove the option of fine in the sentencing of offenders as well as make punishments for drug offences more stringent.”
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari understands the drug problem very well and has, as part of his continuous support, approved the recruitment of additional 5,000 officers and men to further strengthen the agency.
While briefing the conference of the several successes so far recorded by the NDLEA under him, Marwa said apart from putting premium on training, he has also ensured that personnel welfare remains top on his agenda.
In her goodwill message to the conference, First Lady of Edo State, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, who is a member of the SPC emphasised the importance of the strategic committee to the work of NDLEA.
She said: “What NDLEA has achieved in recent times is a reflection of the focus, patriotism, and commitment of Gen. Marwa. He is the kind of person Nigeria needs in leadership positions to take this country to the great height it’s destined for.”