Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse, Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd), has disclosed that the committee will soon transmit its report to the Presidency.
Marwa spoke exclusively to Daily Sun during the Ramadan Iftar organised by the Embassy of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Abuja.
The event had in attendance the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Musa Bello, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, amongst others.
“We are now working on the recommendations for the president on how to eliminate drug abuse in Nigeria. We are looking at it comprehensively from the point of view of preventive, from the point of view of treatment and rehabilitation,” Marwa said.
“So, it is all inclusive with the institutions involved like the NDLEA, the NAFDAC, Customs, Police, Civil Defence, all the enforcement agencies. On this side and the government, the regulatory bodies, NGOs, traditional institution; there are a lot of stakeholders. So, we are putting this report together and, very soon, we will submit it.”
Asked if the country should take the path of Indonesia and Saudi Arabia on capital punishment for drug offenders, Marwa said: “This is all within the framework of what we are listening to from the public. And eventually, the decision on what we are thinking will be in the report.”
On what the committee is thinking, Marwa said there were conventions, adding that the issue is delicate and the committee has to look at it very carefully.
Marwa added: “There are conventions as we know. It is delicate and we have to look at it very carefully. It is very important that we look at it very carefully.”
On his part, the Ambassador of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Nigeria, Adnan Mahmoud Bostaji, said he was confident that Zainab Aliyu and Ibrahim Abubakar, two Nigerians recently detained in Saudi Arabia and later released over drug-related offences, were going to be released by the Saudi authorities due to their purported innocence.
He called on Nigerian airport officials to take more measures and procedures in terms of making sure that what happened in the case of Aliyu and Abubakar does not happen again.
“The reason is that Zainab Habibu Aliyu and Abubakar were actually innocent because they were deceived and the wrong tag was placed actually in the wrong bag, using their names and they were innocent,” the Saudi ambassador said through an interpreter.
“And the ambassador was quite confident that they were going to be freed in the end because he followed up on the issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nigeria and he worked with them on that case and he is saying that the laws of the Kingdom are based on justice and innocent people have got to be freed in the end.
“Unfortunately, there is also no doubt that there are some Nigerians who travel to the Kingdom carrying drugs with them, some of them within their bodies. And that is exactly what happened to the woman that was handed with death sentence and had it passed on her. And even the officials of the Nigerian government did acknowledge that she was carrying drugs.
“The ambassador is saying that he is using this medium to call on Nigerian officials in Nigerian airports to take more measures and procedures in terms of making sure that this kind of thing does not happen again. There also has to be a programme of enlightenment to Nigerian pilgrims especially, to let them know these are very serious and dangerous things that carry very heavy consequences. This will help prevent this kind of happenings.”
On the Ramadan Iftar, Bostaji said the true meaning of peace was realised by the attendance of brothers of other religions.
The Saudi envoy further said there was no doubt that the meeting gave impetus to good bilateral relations between both countries.
He said there was also no doubt that the participation of Nigerians during the Iftar ceremony gave good ground for friendliness and showed that there was love between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
Bostaji mentioned the historical ties between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, the two countries having established formal relations in 1960.
“There is coordination between the two countries in terms of the war against terrorism, corruption and a lot of fields, and Nigeria is actually a great country in Africa as a whole,” Bostaji said.