BY EMEKA EJERE
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan says drug barons are funding terrorism and banditry across Nigeria with the proceeds of the illegal drug trade which are used to purchase arms and ammunitions for terror groups like Boko Haram as well as bandits and kidnappers.
Lawan stated this when Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa, paid a visit to his office on Thursday at the National Assembly in Abuja.
According to him, drug traffickers have made Nigeria a major transit route, stressing that this has aided the increase of criminality around the nation.
“The National Assembly members are almost on 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, 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,” Lawan stated while addressing the NDLEA Chairman.
On his part, Marwa lamented the increase in drug addiction, especially amongst the youths.
According to him, the illegal drug trade jas played a great role in the rise of criminality in Nigeria.
He thanked the legislators in the Ninth Senate for displaying great interest and supporting the review of the NDLEA Act and hoped that with the cooperation of the legislature, the scourge of drug addiction and trading will be tackled effectively.