Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Gen. Buba Marwa on Friday said that any member of the National Assembly that supports any legislation to legalize the use of cannabis will find it difficult to go to his or her constituency.
Gen. Marwa also said that the campaign against drug abuse was being taken to schools, lamenting that kids now begin to use drugs from primary schools.
The NDLEA boss disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Marwa said that he discussed the issue of building barracks for the NDLEA operatives in the 36 states of the federation.
Asked to comment on the calls in some quarters for legalization of cannabis, he said, “Now, the World Health Organisation itself has declared cannabis affects the brain, alters brain function. It destabilizes, affects behavior. It also affects body organs, and at some point, it can lead to death.
“So while we appreciate those who want to legalize it for financial gains, we have to be careful to reconcile it with life. So it’s money versus life. And up to this point, science has not developed up to the point where it can remove the THC in cannabis to zero.
“Therefore, cannabis is harmful to our health, is a danger to society. We must never allow its legalization. What’s more, Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users, this is the highest in the world. Isn’t it sad?
“We should be the highest in science, technology, mathematics, physics, and stuff that were looked at as highest, that is something we need.
“We can never support legalization and I don’t see how the National Assembly would pass the act because I know 90 percent or more of the Honorable and Distinguished members of the National Assembly know the implications of this legalization and they dare not go back to their constituencies if anyone signs legalization because we’re seeing the implication on the ground.
” The youths, the families are being destroyed because of cannabis and drugs. It wouldn’t be legalized by the grace of God.,
Asked whether there was anything the agency was doing differently that leads to the increased arrest of drug traffickers, Gen. Marwa said, “No, it is the professionalism of the personnel of the NDLEA and the partnership that we enjoy.
“We work with Britain, Americans, Germans, French, Saudis. We have partners, we all work together because the drug use phenomenon is global. And unless you have this type of cooperation, it won’t work. So it is the professionalism and at the bottom of it all, the encouragement from the President himself, who through his political will, has granted all this great opportunity to serve Nigeria “
Fielding question on whether it is possible to achieve a drug-free Nigeria, he said, “Anything is possible, but it takes a lot of work to achieve it. Probably, what will be a better way to put it could be to say, an acceptable minimum level, because you have to remember, drugs, in its widest sense includes alcohol.
“Studies have shown that more accidents and deaths on the road are created from the use of alcohol, more globally, not only in Nigeria.”
Briefing on why he was at the State House, he said, “Basically, I am in the Villa to see the commander in chief and to appreciate his support and political will for the work in drug abuse Nigeria, and as well to bring him up to date on activities since the launching of the war against drug abuse in June by Mr. President.
“As far as activities in the drug supply reduction sphere are concerned. We have seized drugs worth billions of Naira over 100 billion those cash has been sent to the CBN and the actual drug themselves we have sought for forfeiture from the courts for destruction.
“We have jailed 1,630 since January. These criminals, shameless criminals, and murderers who traffic drugs. We have counseled and rehabilitated over 4000 within our NDLEA facilities.
“The issues of the war against drug abuse cascade down to communities. So I briefed the President on the advocacy work that we’re doing across the country structures, state level, local government, communities, the role of traditional institution and NGOs media, what families are expected to do, the school system.
“The federal ministry of education already is working on curricula, because now kids start taking drugs from primary school, we need to get the root of it. These are some of the areas that we have touched with the president, clearly a substantial part of which I may not disclose.
“Finally, and very importantly, I raised the issue of barracks. The NDLEA has been in existence for 32 years. All other agencies, armed forces, police, customs, immigration,
road safety all have estates, and barracks, except the NDLEA, we still don’t have barracks.
“And now, considering the hazardous nature of the work that we do, the danger in it, we arrest and jail the criminals and then live among them. When you send operatives, to go into the forest, to go after the criminals, they will be encouraged if they knew that their own families are secure in a barracks somewhere.
“So clearly, we got a positive response on that, we’re very grateful for it and we look forward to the execution as soon as it is practicable. The economy, I’m sure permitting.”
He further said, “Second is the issue of recruitment. Considering the size and responsibilities before us, we need to expand. This matter was discussed with the Commander-in-Chief.
“And we also again received a listening ear, we are very grateful. the last message here to Nigerians is to say no to drugs, if you have not started taking drugs, don’t, if you have started stop it, if you’re addicted, seek treatment, there’s no shame or stigma, go and get treated.
“If you have malaria, you go to the hospital, if you have diabetes, you are not ashamed. So drug addiction is a disease like the others, I urge those who are addicted to going for treatment, thank you very much.”
Asked where the barracks will be sited, he said: “We have as you know, personnel in 36 states of the Federation and FCT, therefore, we expect barracks in all the locations that as we as having to travel the country, the budgetary provisions is something that I will not comment on at this point.”
Also asked what was the response of the President, he said, “Well, the President told us well done. And that well done, does not go to Gen Marwa, but the NDLEA officers and men. And if there’s a secret behind it, we thank the Almighty God for his successes recorded so far, and also to the gallant and professional officers, and men of the NDLEA who have remained upstanding.”
Fielding question on whether he has received any threat since he assumed office, the NDLEA boss said, “Severally, it’s almost a daily occurrence because my phone number is open. Equally, messages come through family, through colleagues, and sometimes people at random who we don’t know but live in the territory. That said we also take precautions