How we did it in 3 months – Gen. Marwa
By Kingsley Omonobi, Abuja
Imagine what would have been if illicit drugs with a cash value of over N75 billion were to circulate in streets across Nigeria and getting to 15 million people.
Also imagine what would have been without the arrest of over 2,175 suspected drug traffickers and barons in three months, and stopping the injection of over 2 million kilograms of assorted dangerous illicit drugs into an already charged volatile society where drugs, ‘a defeatist cover’, are now seen as a way out.
On top of this, the agency charged with the responsibility of checkmating drug abuse has filed about 2,000 cases in court with 329 convictions while 1,549 cases are pending.
These and many other revelations came to the fore when the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brigadier General Buba Marwa (rtd), paid an advocacy visit to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in his office in Abuja.
Marwa said at the occasion: “These figures are even less than what could have been on the streets destroying the lives of innocent youths, our women and men”.
Agreeing with the volume of danger and destruction that drugs, if they had permeated the society, would have cost the nation, Mohammed, in his reply, said, “The war against illicit drugs and tackling drug trafficking is one of the most important tasks in our country today.
“This is because drug trafficking, money laundering by traffickers and the use of illicit drugs are closely linked to the nation’s security, well being of the citizens, the moral fabric of our society and even governance.
“It is common knowledge that drug money can be used to finance insurgency and terrorism. A successful fight against drug trafficking will therefore help to deny or reduce funding for insurgency”.
The Information Minister continued, “The kind of vicious banditry and kidnapping for ransom that our country has witnessed in recent times cannot be totally separated from illicit drug use and their effects on users who take to crime.
“Drug trafficking proceeds are sometimes also ingested into legitimate businesses, making hard working and honest people look indolent.
“What about the effect of drug trafficking on the moral fabric of the society. This society rarely questions the source or sources of people’s wealth. That’s why drug traffickers end up becoming role models in the society, with devastating consequences for our young ones.
“Even governance is not spared. Drug traffickers and money launderers contest and win elections into high offices, where they help shape policy.
“Just imagine the damage this can do to governance and indeed to any nation.
“This is why I want to commend Gen. Marwa for raising the bar in the fight against drug cartels and the use of illicit drugs with the new maxim, ‘’offensive action’’
“Boosting the morale and confidence of staffers; Attracting International support and ‘’offensive action’’ against drug cartels that has led to the arrest of 2,175 drug traffickers, seizure of 2,050,765.33 kilograms of illicit drugs as well as cash and drug seizures worth N75 billion”.
Against this backdrop, the minister assured the NDLEA boss: “The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will work with you to give maximum publicity to your activities, especially in the area of advocacy.
“To date, we have launched a number of national campaigns. It will not be a bad idea for the ministry, working with the NDLEA, to launch a national campaign against drug trafficking and use of illicit drugs.
“I will also encourage the NDLEA to work with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), which has set up Integrity Clubs in Secondary Schools nationwide, to reach the young ones with its campaign against drug use”.
In his submission earlier, Marwa had said, “Today, Nigeria is faced with a major drug crisis that is in no small way fuelling most of the security challenges being faced in NE, NW, NC and indeed across the country”.
The NDLEA Chairman went on: “Recently, through intelligence based operations, we were able to arrest some drug traffickers; one a Nigerien and another a Chadian in Niger State and Taraba State respectively, who supplied illicit drugs to insurgents and bandits
“As much as we’re disrupting their drug supply chain through law enforcement, we also need to work hard on our drug demand reduction through advocacy programmes, which are mostly publicity driven”.