Senate President, Ahmad Lawan says drug barons are funding terrorism and banditry across Nigeria.
The Lawmaker stated this when Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa, paid a visit to his office on Thursday at the National Assembly in Abuja.
According to Senator Lawan, the proceeds of the illegal drug trade are used to purchase arms and ammunitions for terror groups like Boko Haram as well as bandits and kidnappers.
He said drug traffickers have made Nigeria a major transit route, stressing that this has aided the increase of criminality around the nation.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to improve surveillance and control around the nation’s borders.
Giving his speech at the virtual commissioning ceremony of the NIS Technology Building on Thursday in Abuja, Buhari said, “As a security agency, I charge you to be relentless in carrying out your statutory duties of keeping our borders safe … remember that a safe border is a prerequisite for a safe nation.
Lawan hinted, “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 acquisitions 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.
President Buhari asked the service to ensure that criminal elements do not find Nigeria as a safe haven to hide and perpetrate their criminality.
He also instructed all security agencies to raise their performance in protecting lives and property, with a mandate that the nation’s Global Security Index must be improved.
“It is imperative that our ranking in the Global Security Index improves and I am using this medium to call on all security agencies to step up their activities towards achieving this goal.
“I assure you that the administration will give the much-needed support to you in your operations,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
“You must develop strong working relationships and ties with the international community and friendly nations as it relates to migration management; adopt and implement workable strategies from them while also sharing your best practices.”
And responding to the remarks by the Senate President, the new NDLEA boss lamented over the increase in drug addiction, especially amongst the youths.
According to him, the illegal drug trade has 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