.NDLEA justifies need for drug attachés
By Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, has stressed that the National Assembly is focused on strengthening regulatory mechanisms to ensure that our values as Nigerians do not suffer degeneration as a result of drug abuse.
This is just as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has emphasised that drug attachés from Nigeria will be needed to ensure that the agency has a comprehensive approach to investigations abroad.
Lawan, who delivered a keynote address on Thursday to declare open a public hearing on the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency Act 2004 and represented by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said the issue of drug abuse in the country has become a hazard too difficult to ignore.
He said: “We (National Assembly) have severally demonstrated that we cannot allow the degeneration of our values, through drugs and other substances, considering our concerted quest for growth. The Bill before us is yet another attempt at strengthening the regulatory mechanism on drug abuse, following loopholes in the extant law.
”It also flows from the regular trend of reviewing or updating laws, after operational experiences, as a step towards perfection. The Senate and the National Assembly will always ensure improvements in extant laws in line with our disposition to grow our democracy by solidifying existing acts.”
Also speaking, the Director-General of the NDLEA, Brigadier-Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), while responding to a question on the proposal to send NDLEA attachés to Nigerian missions abroad, which according to the lawmakers will be a drain on national resources, said attaches are needed to support the investigations of Nigerians committing drug crimes abroad.
According to him, ”We have so many Nigerians in some countries abroad that the drug agencies in those countries will actually require the assistance of Nigerians particularly on language issues. We find that some country really requires the assistance of our drug attachés. We have seen that even Section 45 of the NDLEA law as presently couched, grants the Agency powers to request for information of competent Nigerians abroad to enable us follow up with investigation at home.
”However, we felt that just like we have liaison magistrates of foreign countries in Nigeria giving us assistance in other areas, we also need to do that because we have had requests from so many countries saying that drug attachés from Nigeria will be needed to ensure that they have a comprehensive approach to investigations in their own countries.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Senator Hezekiah Dimka, said the repeal and re-enactment of the NDLEA Act 2004 became imperative in view of the severe threat posed by drug abuse and trafficking on security in the country.
He noted that the NDLEA Act 2004 was long overdue for amendment, adding that the Agency has with experience, learnt some lessons in the course of operating and enforcing the Act.