These are the key issues the new NDLEA Chairman should prioritize

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Mr. Muhammad Abdullah as the new Chairman of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). This was announced yesterday by Babachir Lawal, the secretary to the government of the federation.

Muhammad Abdullah is a 64-year old professional security officer who has served the nation for over 30 years in various capacities in the military. Abdullah, who is from Adamawa state, is a retired Lieutenant Colonel. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in American Politics and Government from the Sam Houston State University, USA (1989), an M.A. Public Administration, LLB and LLM degrees from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

As he takes over the mantle of leadership from Roli Bode-George, (the acting chairman), here are some pressing issues he needs to pay attention to in order to make his 5-year tenure worthwhile.

An aggressive war against drug trafficking

According to statistics, Nigeria has the highest number of drug-related convicts in the world. However, while NDLEA officials have reportedly intercepted over 10,000 kilograms of narcotics and made numerous arrests in the last year, the fight against this destructive menace is still far from over. Furthermore, the NDLEA is yet to move from prosecuting the petty trafficking cases to arresting big time traffickers.

In 2014, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, while speaking at the sixth session of the African Union conference of Ministers of Drug Control, asserted the need to go after the drug barons whose money may have been used to fund politics and terrorism. “We have found that it is still mostly drug users and small-time dealers who are arrested and imprisoned. The small fry is caught while the big fish swim free. National and international action against the traffickers must be stepped up, especially against those running the networks rather than their foot-soldiers on the ground,” Obasanjo said.

Zero corruption

Under the Indonesian law, drug smuggling is punishable by death which is carried out by a 12-man firing squad. The execution of four Nigerians for drug trafficking in Indonesia last year was a wake up call to most. Even though the world was shocked about the executions, they brought Nigeria into a larger sphere of questioning regarding drug trafficking. If NDLEA officials were less corrupt, with the right training and development, would it be possible for these smugglers to beat the security checks in their country?

Training, research and development

For an institution that is charged with exterminating illicit drug importation, exportation, manufacture or purchase, high intelligence facilities need to be put in place to screen travelers at exit points all around the country. Also, it is time for the NDLEA to invest in training its officials and capitalize on research and the improved plans to have a greater impact on curtailing drug related crime in Nigeria.

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