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NDLEA cracked down on drug lords, cartels – Marwa

The chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa, has said the agency has been succeeding in the fight against illicit drugs in the country due to ongoing internal reforms.

According to him, the agency has been undergoing a reform process that has resulted in the arrest of many drug lords and their cartels.

Marwa stated these in his keynote address delivered at the 14th Biennial International Conference on Drugs, Alcohol, and Society in Africa with the theme, “Towards the reform of drug law and policy in Africa: Research, practice and advocacy consideration,”
organised by the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse and obtained by journalists in Abuja on Wednesday evening.

He said, “Revamping the NDLEA became imperative in light of the disturbing findings of the National Drug Use and Health Survey conducted in 2018 which indicated that Nigeria’s drug use prevalence at 14.4 per cent was way above the global threshold of 5.6 per cent.

“In the past 21 months, the NDLEA has been undergoing a reform process which has resulted in tectonic changes in the agency’s administration, structure and operations. Consequently, the NDLEA’s turbo-charged performance in the areas of arrests, prosecutions, convictions and seizures are the result of reforms.”

According to him, the reforms were not limited to the NDLEA’s activities but included the laws that established the agency and other legislations that were the basis for the country’s drug control effort.

He added that the reforms, singly and collectively, have given the agency a dynamic drug control framework in which prevention and treatment are now entrenched.

While stressing the need for reforms in the drug laws, including policies and their implementations, Marwa recalled that until the past few years, drug law enforcement in Nigeria was tied to dated legislation with the resultant policies and practices he observed, no longer adequate to tackle issues of illicit substances.

He said rather than solve problems, the application of the law, methodologies and practices were creating new challenges as they fuel criminalisation and did little to stem drug abuse and crimes.

Marwa said, “Change, as the saying goes, is inevitable. The past decades have brought fresh thinking concerning substance abuse. Around the world, there has been a gradual and systematic shift in drug control perspectives leading to an overhaul of old laws and policies which are replaced with new ones that reflect the contemporary understanding of illicit substances from law enforcement, socioeconomic and health standpoints.

“A significant reform on the subject matter of the use and abuse of drugs is the new Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Act 2022, which was passed into law in September. The new law will help to curb the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs and also bring control to activities within the pharmacy profession. Similarly, the law establishing the NDLEA is going through amendment, having been reviewed by all relevant stakeholders who contributed and agreed on vital areas.”

While expressing confidence that the amended NDLEA Bill would be passed into law by the National Assembly, Marwa said drug policies in the country were also undergoing reviews.

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