Reports have confirmed that since Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa took over as Chairman and CEO of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on January 18, 2021, significant changes have taken place in that organisation.
Some of these changes are internal and they have to do with the welfare of the NDLEA personnel and some of the changes have to do with the new vigour in agency’s mode of operation.
Some of the workers who spoke to THISDAY said that the agency has spread its tentacles farther in the fight against drug trafficking and usage by Nigerians.
Reports have indicated that NDLEA under Marwa has rejuvenated its operations across the country and the number of arrests and high calibrecases also show that the agency is digging deeper than in the past in the anti-drugs fight.
On the workers’ welfare, THISDAY learnt that many of the agency’s staff who were not promoted in the last 10 years received their promotion under Marwa. Death benefits for those who died in line of duty that were abandoned over the years was revived and the relatives of those who lost their loved ones in the agency had been compensated by the current administration.
Based on the increased use of drugs by Nigerians and also the increase in the number of traffickers, it is projected that in the next 10 years if drug use is not drastically curbed it would destroy the majority of Nigerian youths; so Marwa has introduced elaborate sensitisationawareness creation in different parts of the country, down to rural communities.
That was an offshoot of anti-drug abuse campaign that was launched by President Mohammadu Buhari on June 26, 2021.
THISDAY learnt that Marwa had met with traditional rulers, National Assembly members, community leaders and others and stated that for NDLEA to effectively undertake the Herculean task of arresting the moral decay and damage drug abuse is wrecking on Nigerian youths, it needs more funding; a request that is receiving positive result from government.
Last year, NDLEA recruited about 5000 Nigerians and deployed them to different areas in Nigeria and they have kicked off grassroots campaign against drug use and trafficking.
Recently, NDLEA intercepted 649,300 capsules of Tramadol 225mg and 809,850 Euros cash from Pakistan, Austria and Italy at the MurtalaMuhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja Lagos.
The agency also blocked various quantities of Heroin and other illicit drugs from being exported to the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA Headquarters, Abuja, Femi Babafemi, disclosed these recently and attributed it to the new approach the agency has adopted under Marwa, which is yielding very good results.
Babafemi also disclosed that at the Skyway Aviation Handling Company cargo warehouse at the Lagos airport, anti-narcotic officers seized 649,300 capsules of Tramadol 225mg weighing 460.95kg imported from Pakistan via Addis Ababa through Ethiopian Airline on Wednesday February 16, 2022.
He said the above seizure took place four days after another lady, Precious Idahagbon was arrested with 740,000 Euros cash hidden in her luggage and undeclared upon her arrival at the airport from Vienna, Austria via Istanbul, Turkey.
Babafemi said both cash seizures were under investigation to establish if they were proceeds of drug business.
“At the NAHCO export shed of the airport, operatives seized a consignment of 131 parcels of Cannabis concealed in packages of black soap (Dudu-Osun), during outward clearance of cargo going to the UK. This is as another consignment presented for export to Dubai, UAE at SAHCO shed was also recovered after 30 parcels of cannabis hidden in cartons of cornflakes were discovered in it.
“Not less than 6.5kg of Heroin, Khat and Oxycodone packaged for export to USA, and Canada were seized at a major courier company in Lagos by operatives of the Directorate of Operation and General Investigations, DOGI. The drugs were concealed in shoes, and carton walls.
With improved welfare and regular promotion, the NDLEA workforce has been gingered to work with more dedication and courage; unlike in the past when its morale was sagged due to lack of motivation,” Babafemi said.
He disclosed recently that 75 per cent of the workforce was promoted at once in June 2021, which is the highest in any single exercise since the establishment of the anti-narcotics body over three decades ago.
“It is an established norm that promotions are not only based on qualifications but also on vacancies. No law enforcement organisationcan elevate all its staff at a go considering such criteria as rank, structure that is based on vacancies; only a specific number can be promoted to some vacant positions even if all are qualified and that’s why there can only be one State Commander in a State Command.
“At the highest level in the agency, where we have nine Deputy Commanders General of Narcotics (DCGN) and 25 Assistant Commanders General of Narcotics (ACGN) these positions were not only spread along geo zonal considerations but religious balance”, he further explained.
He said that at the due time, every one deserving of promotion and other benefits would be considered based on available vacancies and resources.
“This is in addition to other incentives such as the provision of barracks for officers and men; life and injury insurance cover as well as working tools for drug demand control and drug supply reduction activities, all made possible by the current leadership of the agency,” he added.