President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the construction of barracks for operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
According to Buba Marwa, chairman of the agency, the building of barracks for operatives of the agency is part of efforts to protect officers and their families.
Marwa, who spoke after his meeting with the president on the activities of the agency at the presidential villa in Abuja, said it will be the first of it kind in the 32 year existence of the agency.
“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,” he said.
“And now, considering the hazardous nature of the work that we do — the dangers in it — we arrest and jail the criminals and then live among them.
“When you send operatives to go into the forest, to go after the criminals, they will be encouraged if they know 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.
“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, the NDLEA chairman disclosed that the agency had seized illicit drugs worth over N100 billion, while cash recovered has been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“As far as activities in the drug supply reduction sphere are concerned, we have seized drugs worth billions of naira — over N100 billion. The cash has been sent to the Central Bank and for the drugs, we have sought forfeiture from the courts for destruction,” he said.
“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 also urged those who abuse drugs to desist from their actions.
“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,” Marwa said.
“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.”