By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has endorsed the construction of barracks for workers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) across the country.
The Chairman of the NDLEA, retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, revealed this to State House correspondents after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the activities of the agency at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday
The NDLEA boss said the building of barracks for staff of the agency had become imperative to protect them and their families from criminals involved in drug trafficking.
He said: “I raised the issue of barracks, the NDLEA has been in existence for 32 years.
“All other agencies, Armed Forces, Police, Customs, Immigration, Road Safety, all have estates, and barracks, except the NDLEA, we still don’t have barracks.
“And now, considering the hazardous nature of the work that we do, the danger in it, we arrest and jail the criminals and then live amongst them.
“This is an area that I found His Excellency, the President, was very well seized of it and in fact, disclosed that when you send operatives, to go into the forest, to go after the criminals, they will be encouraged if they knew that their own families are secured in a barracks somewhere.
“So clearly, we got a positive response from the Commander in Chief and we are very grateful for it and we look forward to the execution as soon as it is practicable,’’ he said.
Marwa further disclosed that he requested for recruitment of more personnel to enable the agency perform its duties diligently.
He said: “Another thing we talked about was the issue of recruitment. Considering the size and responsibilities before us and we also again received a listening ear, we are very grateful.”
On the activities of the agency, Marwa disclosed that the agency had seized illicit drugs worth over N100 billion, while the cash recovered from drug barons had been deposited with the Central bank of Nigeria.
He added that the NDLEA had already sought forfeiture of the drugs from the courts for destruction.
According to him, between January and September this year, 1,630 people involved in drug crimes were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment by the courts across the country.
He said: “As far as activities in the drug supply reduction sphere are concerned, we have seized drugs worth billions of naira, over N100 billion. Those cash have been sent to the Central Bank and the actual drug themselves, we have sought forfeiture from the courts for destruction.
“Since January, we have jailed 1,630 of these shameless criminals and murderers who traffic drugs.
“We have counselled and rehabilitated over 4,000 within our NDLEA facilities.
“The issues of the war against drug abuse cascade down to communities.
“So, I briefed the President on the advocacy work that we’re doing across the country.’’
The NDLEA boss, therefore, called on those involved in drug taking or trafficking to shun the habit.
“The last message here to Nigerians is to say no to drugs; if you have not started taking drugs, don’t; if you have started, stop it; if you’re addicted, seek treatment; there’s no shame or stigma, go and get treated.
“If you have malaria, you go to the hospital, if you have diabetes, you are not ashamed.
“So, drug addiction is a disease like the others. I urge those who are addicted to start going for treatment,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)