Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed has commended retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa for raising the bar in the fight against drug cartels and the use of illicit drugs in the country.
The minister gave the commendation on Thursday in Abuja when Marwa, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Drug Laws Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) paid him a courtesy visit.
Mohammed, who congratulated Marwa on his appointment as NDLEA boss, said his string of achievements, in the less than three months he assumed office was impressive.
“These achievements, I am reliably informed, include restoring the visibility of the NDLEA for local and international partnership and boosting the morale and confidence of staffers.
“You have also attracted international support and ”offensive action” against drug cartels
“This has led to the arrest of 2,175 drug traffickers, seizure of 2,050,765.33 kilogrammes of illicit drugs as well as cash and drug seizures worth N75 billion,’’ he said.
Mohammed noted that the war against illicit drugs and tackling drug trafficking is one of the most important tasks in the country.
He said drug trafficking, money laundering by traffickers and the use of illicit drugs were closely linked to the nation’s security, wellbeing of the citizens, the moral fabric of society and governance.
“It is common knowledge that drug money can be used to finance insurgency and terrorism. A successful fight against drug trafficking will therefore help to deny or reduce funding for insurgency.
“The kind of vicious banditry and kidnapping for ransom that our country has witnessed in recent times cannot be totally separated from illicit drug use and their effects on users who take to crime,’’ he said.
Mohammed added that drug trafficking proceeds were sometimes ingested into legitimate businesses, making hard working and honest people look indolent.
He said drug trafficking equally had effects on the moral fabric of the society because people rarely questioned the source or sources of people’s wealth.
“That’s why drug traffickers end up becoming role models in the society, with devastating consequences for our young ones,’’ he said.
Mohammed said governance is equally not spared, as drug traffickers and money launderers contest and win elections into high offices, where they help shape policy.
The minister assured the NDLEA boss that his ministry would work with him to give maximum publicity to the agency’s activities, especially in the area of advocacy.
Specifically, he mulled working with the NDLEA, to launch a national campaign against drug trafficking and use of illicit drugs.
The minister also encouraged the NDLEA to work with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to reach the young ones with its campaign against drug use.
He noted that the NOA had set up Integrity Clubs in Secondary Schools nationwide.
Earlier, Marwa said Nigeria is faced with a major drug crisis with a horrifying statistic.
He disclosed that there were approximately 50 million Nigerians using drugs within the age bracket of 15 and 64.
The former Military Administrator of Borno and Lagos states respectively said the use of drugs does not discriminate between gender, tribe, religion and sections of the country
He said one out of seven Nigerians used drugs and of the number 25 per cent was female.
Marwa added that drug had destroyed the youths, women folks, families and it is also fuelling security challenges.
He disclosed that the agency recently arrested a Chadian and a Nigerien who were supplying drugs to insurgents and bandits.
The NDLEA boss said his visit was to seek partnership with the ministry and some of its agencies in driving the agency’s advocacy programmes. (NAN)