Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd), Thursday, said that the agency was proposing an amendment to the NDLEA Act to specify a maximum penalty of life jail for drug offenders in the country.
Gen. Marwa stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the Ministerial briefing, organized by the Presidential Communication Team, at the State House, Abuja.
He revealed that the NDLEA has recovered over N100 billion worth of drugs and cash in the last ten months, and also arrested 9,355 drug traffickers and six barons within the same period.
The NDLEA boss warned that any politician found encouraging the use of drugs would not be spared, even as he said that a politician he declined to mention his name was caught with drugs in Lagos.
He further disclosed that over 2.7 million kilograms of assorted illicit drugs have so far been seized from traffickers by the agency.
On the proposed amendments to the NDLEA Act, Marwa lamented that penalties in the subsisting laws were not deterrent enough adding that the new proposal would recommend a minimum of 15 years jail and a maximum of 25 years jail term for offenders or even life imprisonment without the option of fines.
He noted that in the current Act, drug barons get light sentences with options of insignificant fines that were not deterrent enough considering the enormity of the impact of drugs abuse in society.
According to him, “We have a situation where a convict was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment with an option of N700,000 fine.”
Apart from recommending a long jail term, Marwa also said that the agency was considering going after the assets of convicts of drug traffickers adding that a situation where they were convicted only to meet their assets intact after completing their terms was not deterrent enough.
Marwa noted that the agency would weaponize asset forfeiture against arrested, jailed, or indicted drug barons using a combination of laws including the NDLEA Act, Money Laundering Act, and Mutual Legal Assistant Treaty (MLAT).
He reiterated that drug tests must be conducted on anyone wishing to join any of the security agencies and prospective grooms to stem the rise of drug abuse in the country.
While reeling out key achievements since he assumed office in the last ten months, Marwa said “As of October 15, the Agency has recorded the following:9, 355 arrested traffickers, including six drug barons; over 5,000 drug offenses cases filed in court; over N100 billion worth of drugs and cash recovered; more than 2.7 million kilograms of assorted illicit drugs were seized in 10 months.5,579 drug users were counseled and rehabilitated by NDLEA, a figure that gives a fair balance between our drug control and drug demand efforts.”
Fielding question on the campaign for the legalization of the use cannabis in the country being championed by the Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, Marwa said doing so would be counter-productive adding that it would create more problems for the country beyond the expected financial gains.
He added that there has yet to be any scientific proof of all claims made by the governor on the medicinal use to which cannabis could be put.
He enthused that by the end of this year, NDLEA would have dealt a blow to cannabis cartel
He noted with regret that People who abuse drugs and need treatment were reluctant to seek treatments because they feel they would be noticed
He also said that the agency had signed an international partnership with the Drug Enforcement Agency, DEA of the United States, and with the Gambia, adding that it was looking at signing such a partnership with India next year.
He said that the German government has proposed to build a dog training center in Ikeja, Lagos state at the cost of two million Euro dogs.
Gen. Marwa told journalists that the armed forces have supported the agency with weapons and that it was going to acquire more.