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The British government’s extraordinary support for NDLEA

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The war against hard drugs and illicit substances in Nigeria deservedly got a tremendous boost recently with the commissioning and handing over ceremony of an operational facility in Lagos, built and donated to National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, by the British government  to further strengthen the former’s current offensive action against drug offenders including cartels and their kingpins.

We strongly commend this extraordinary initiative by a friendly nation which should be emulated by other international partners, who before now had not supported the agency either through donations of equipment or assisted in the training and retraining of personnel as part of renewed global collaboration to eradicate the scourge.

Such anticipated massive support no doubt, will enable the agency’s officers and men  sustain the ongoing string of victories against the lucrative transnational criminal trade involving the production, trafficking and consumption of such dangerous drugs and substances as cocaine, heroin, cannabis and trammadol which continue to send many addicts to their untimely graves and experts believe is at the root of the upsurge in the rate of violent crimes nationwide.

The building complex according to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA, Brig Gen Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), stands not only as a physical structure but as a symbol of the enduring partnership between the U.K. and Nigeria in the global fight against drug trafficking and represents the culmination of years of cooperation, mutual trust, and shared determination to combat one of the most pressing threats to our societies.

Again, the edifice will serve as a vital hub for data analysis and strategic planning in the organization’s efforts to disrupt drug trafficking networks and apprehend those responsible, even as the state-of-the-art facilities and technology empowers the personnel more than ever before to tackle the complex and ever-evolving challenge of drug trafficking and abuse frontally.

We totally agree with the NDLEA’ Chairman disclosure that the UK has been a steadfast ally in the organization’s relentless pursuit to neutralise transnational organised criminal activities, particularly in the realm of illicit drug production and trafficking while other nations should emulate the commendable gesture and redouble their support to enable the agency deliver on its statutory mandate with greater efficiency and professional precision.

Very importantly, it is in the interest of the U.K, Nigeria and the global community not only to intensify the war against drug trafficking and organised crime in view of its collateral damage on many nations and even the coming generations, but sustain good collaboration across borders and boundaries in order to permanently disrupt criminal networks of drug cartels, intercept illegal drugs, and bring to justice all those who seek to profit from the illicit drug production, distribution and consumption.

However, the assurance by the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Jonny Baxter of continued support to the agency and Nigeria is particularly heartwarming in view of some of the current challenges confronting the latter including inadequate facilities and equipment, operational vehicles and barracks accommodation for its operatives which further exposes them to grave danger especially from drug barons who may want to fight back.

In his words, “We’re delighted to continue our support for the NDLEA and the Nigerian government to tackle what is sadly a global industry, which needs a global response. I’ll like to join the chairman in affirming our continued support, our continued cooperation and indeed our continued pride in working together with ladies and gentlemen of this agency, the NDLEA.”

Certainly, in our opinion, the incumbent leadership of the anti-narcotics body  has left no one in doubt about its resolve and capacity to stamp out the deadly trade since coming on board in January 2021 going by the large number of arrests and seizures. For instance the agency’s amazing feat include the arrests of no fewer than 50,901 drug offenders including 46 barons, the successful prosecution and conviction of 9,034 of them as well as the seizure of over 7,561 tonnes of illicit substances thereby making the NDLEA the nightmare of drug cartels, their kingpins and traffickers in the past 38 months and

decisive action against illicit drug crop cultivation with its search-and-destroy campaign against cannabis plantations. This has resulted in the destruction of over 1,057.33348 hectares of cannabis farms across the states.

But the regular arrests of traffickers at the nation’s airports and sea ports and even barons, clearly indicate that the battle against narcotic drugs and illicit substances is far from being won which should serve as a wake up call for stakeholders at all levels to play their part very well,  and redouble their support ranging from sharing intelligence information on the activities of producers, traffickers and consumers of hard drugs; donation of equipment and operational vehicles, office accommodation and strengthening of the NDLEA Act to impose stiffer sanctions on offenders.

The Commands across the country should further be encouraged through financial and material support to vigorously promote their drug supply reduction operations with War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, advocacy campaigns to schools, markets, motor parks, worship centres and communities as well as across states, local government areas, wards, and communities in order to accelerate the attainment of some set targets under the Drug Demand Reduction Pillar.

To strengthen the agency’s legal framework and facilitate better enforcement, we demand a speedy consideration and passage of the  bill entitled, “a Bill for an Act to amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act CAP N 30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” aimed at checking the incidence of light sentencing for drug offenders contained in the existing law, by the 10th Senate.

The proposed amendment which was first introduced by the previous Senate, if eventually passed into law, will provide for stringent penalties ranging from life imprisonment to 15 years which is the minimum penalty, for persons involved in the importation and exportation of hard drugs such as cocaine or heroin unlike the current light terms of maximum sentence of 3 years jail term for heroin and sometimes a ridiculous 4 months imprisonment for 1.44 kg of cocaine and some convicts further given options of fines by judges.

In their strident defense of the amendment, which we wholeheartedly throw our weight behind, the prevalence and menace of drugs and its destructive effects on the lives of Nigerians, particularly youths had attained an alarming stage such that a whole generation is at risk of been lost to drugs if drastic steps are not taken immediately. There is also no gain saying that the production and sale of illicit drugs require a strong law and strict enforcement by the NDLEA, which entails the strengthening and stiffening the sanctions against drug abuse in such a way that it will end in breaking and ending the destructive drug trade.

In other words, the proposed amendment if signed into law by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will significantly impose stiffer sanctions including life imprisonment for drug barons, traffickers and perhaps consumers by judges as well as plugging the existing loopholes which most criminals had capitalized upon to evade commensurate punishment for their evil trade, make enforcement of drug laws much easy and effective, as well as enhance the organizational capability of the NDLEA to curb the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in the country. This, has our full backing.

 

 

For a better society

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