Agboworin-led House Committee advocates increase in budgeting provision for NDLEA

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The lower chamber of the National Assembly, House of Representatives, has advocated increase in budgeting provision for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to enable it meet up with the task ahead of it.

The Chairman, Committee on Narcotic Drugs, Rep. Abass Adigun, popularly known as Agboworin, made the call, last week, in Abuja, during an interactive session with the management of the agency on the way forward for its operation.

Agboworin, in his remark, expressed fears that if the agency is not empowered to combat drug offenders headlong, the future of the country may be in jeopardy.

He equally noted that the only way the Agency can be properly funded is to move it from the Ministry of Justice to the office of the Presidency, where it can be directly funded to improve the fight against drug abuse in the country.

Speaking further, Agboworin commended the agency for the tenacity and dedication it has shown in discharging its duties, despite being under-funded.

He urged the leadership to keep the fire burning pending when the bill would be passed by both chambers and forwarded to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for accent.

He added that the house has already passed the bill, and expressed optimism that the Red Chamber will do same to enable the agency have more bites in the fight against drugs offenders.

Agboworin said: “The research of my committee has shown that we are in trouble in this country. This is because most of the youths that will be the leaders of tomorrow are into drugs, and the worst is that some house wives are also into drugs.

“While their children are out there taking drugs, their mothers are also doing it right inside their homes, which means such families are gone.

“Also, the agency, NDLEA, has not been really helped by the Federal Government of Nigeria. I looked into their capital and overhead in 2022, 2023 and 2024 budget, it was nothing to write home about, compared to other agencies. And for that change we are talking about, the agency needs to be moved from the Ministry of Justice, where it is currently to the office of the Presidency.

“As a Committee in the House, we amended the Section 11 of the NDLEA Act prescribing that any person who, without lawful authority; imports, manufactures, produces, processes, plants or grows the drugs popularly known as cocaine, heroin or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and be sentenced to minimum of 15 years or maximum of 25 years imprisonment. Apart from that, the properties of such offender will be confiscated without the option of fine.

“But, as for the Senate, where we are expecting concurrence, the penalty is different. The Senate, instead, resolved to capital punishment or death penalty. A proposed amendment to award death sentence to drug traffickers rather than just a life sentence is being partially considered.

“So, since we are in a situation like this, we are waiting for the Clerk to the National Assembly to summon a Committee Conference where the Joint committee would sit together, deliberate on the matter and come up with a uniformed resolution, which would be final.

“After the resolution, the bill would be forwarded to the Presidency for assent.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA, Brig Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), while addressing the Committee, made passionate appeal for the setting up of a Special Court to enable the agency expedite the process of prosecution and conviction of offenders as and when due.

He noted that, as it is at the moment, prosecution of offenders and conviction is delayed because the regular courts are overwhelmed with several cases and, as such, the call for several adjournment for a case that should ordinarily be decided within three months, would end up being delayed for years.

Marwa said: “For my agency to expedite action in the process of prosecution and conviction, we need a special court to handle our cases because the regular courts are overwhelmed with other cases as such delaying accelerated hearing on our cases.

“A case that ordinarily should end within six months is been dragged for years because of several adjournment, so we are appealing that a special court is created for the agency to enable it fast track the process of prosecution and conviction.”

Marwa, noted that the task of educating the young ones on the dangers of drug abuse also rest squarely on the politicians, adding that politicians themselves are into drugs.

He, therefore, urged politicians to go back and educate their supporters on the need to stop taking drugs.

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