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Drug Barons Funding Terrorists, Bandits — Senate President

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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 ammunition 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, paid a visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja, on Thursday.

He said 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, is responsible for the rise in criminality in the country.

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Lawan, 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.

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He assured that the National Assembly will 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 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 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.”

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 the inclusion of drug education in the curriculum for schools and institutions of learning in the country. Earlier, Marwa had said in his address that the Senate has displayed interest, competence, support, and effort on the review of the NDLEA Act.

“This is a very important step to correct some of the lapses in an Act that was promulgated way back in 1989,” he said.

According to Marwa, the visit was intended to “call for urgent intervention from the Senate President,” warning that, “Nigeria is in a state of siege today.”

Marwa raised the alarm that the drug addiction scourge is largely responsible for acts of criminalities which has pervaded all parts of the country and the outcome witnessed in the spate of insecurity lately.

He lamented: “Yes, you have insurgency, banditry, and kidnapping, but if you go to Ogoni to speak to somebody about insurgency, he might not be concerned.

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“If you go to some other parts of the country and speak of kidnapping in some areas, it’s not a major concern. If you go to some other areas and speak of banditry, it may not be of major concern.

“But when you enter the realm of drug abuse, every part of Nigeria, you can for sure say that everybody in this room knows somebody or a neighbour or family that has affliction with drug abuse.

“The drug affliction is actually the number one problem we are facing, it is everywhere.”

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