The newly appointed Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brigadier General Mohammad Buba Marwa(rtd), has noted the increase in the number of drug users in the country and promised to overhaul the agency to achieve drug demand reduction.
Marwa disclosed this during his inaugural address at the NDLEA headquarters on Monday in Abuja.
According him, drug users in the country are estimated to be over 15 million while 14.3million Nigerians between the ages of 15-64 were, in 2018, found to be drug users which is nearly three times global prevalence at the time.
The former military administrator of Lagos and Borno States vowed to overhaul and expand the NDLEA in line with the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA).
He said that the agency would put equal efforts in drug demand reduction as contained in the NDLEA Act and develop strategies to meet the objectives of the National Drug Control Masterplan 2021 – 2025.
While promising to safeguard the country from the menace of drug addiction, he vowed never to hesitate in penalizing default.
“I would like to warn those who engage in the dastardly trade of importation, export, cultivation, processing, manufacture, trafficking, sale and consumption of illicit substances to stop forthwith or be prepared to contend with the NDLEA,” he said.
Speaking on the welfare of staff, Marwa said, “I want to assure you all that your welfare will be given utmost attention. The outstanding issues of stagnation in rank, trainings, postings and due emoluments, will be addressed as priority, “he said.
At the inaugural meeting with staff, Marwa did not entertain any question from the press and was silent on the recent suspension of screening of 5000 applicants seeking employment with NDLEA.
The Federal Government had earlier stopped the planned screening of 5000 applicants seeking employment into the NDLEA as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had ordered a stop into the screening exercise.
Before his appointment, Marwa was the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) between 2018 and December 2020.
The committee was asked to produce a blueprint on how to end drug abuse in Nigeria.