Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), said the ongoing amendment of the Agency’s Act at the National Assembly will further boost the country’s fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking.
Marwa, who stated this at the NDLEA Special Purpose Committee conference (SPC) in Abuja, Friday, disclosed that some of the details of the new bill, which is in its final stage of being passed, will strengthen the hand of the Agency and discourage trafficking of illicit substances because of the stringent punitive measures stipulated for drug offences.
While appreciating the SPC members, who are experts in relevant fields that constitute an advisory group to support the work of the Agency across the country for their contributions to the achievements of NDLEA under his leadership, Marwa said the time is now for well-spirited Nigerians to join the fight against the drug scourge, which though may not be in every family, but affects every community.
He said: “Let me state from the onset that contrary to a recent report that the drug abuse problem is in every household in Nigeria, I’ll like to correct that misrepresentation and state that there are indeed families not afflicted by this menace.
“However, that we can’t say of the communities. It is almost certain that every community has this problem. That said, I would like to assure that the NDLEA Act is presently in its final stage of its amendment at the National Assembly.
“It’s a private bill sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Senator Hezekiah Dimka, and it will among other things remove the option of fine in the sentencing of offenders as well as make punishments for drug offences more stringent.”
Marwa added that President Muhammadu Buhari understands the drug problem very well and has as part of his continuous support approved the recruitment of additional 5,000 officers and men to further strengthen the Agency.
While briefing the conference of the several successes so far recorded by the NDLEA under him, Marwa said apart from putting premium on training, he has also ensured that personnel welfare remains top on his agenda.
In her goodwill message, wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, who is a member of the SPC, emphasised the importance of the strategic committee to the work of NDLEA.
She urged the gathering to remain optimistic about a glorious Nigeria.
“What NDLEA has achieved in recent times is a reflection of the focus, patriotism, and commitment of Gen. Marwa. He is the kind of person Nigeria needs in leadership positions to take this country to the great height it’s destined for,” she added.
NPC Assures Accurate Tech-Driven 2023 Census
The Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Alhaji Nasir Kwarra, has said there is no going back on the conduct of the 2023 Population and Housing Census.
Kwarra assured that everything has been put in place to ensure the success of the exercise and called for the support of all stakeholders including the civil society organisations, development partners and governments at all levels for its success.
Speaking at the Benue State Stakeholders Summit on the Population and Housing Census organised by the NPC in collaboration with Benue State Government, Kwarra reiterated that the Commission would conduct an exercise that would be technology driven to achieve the best outcome.
He stated that, “preparation for the conduct of the 2023 census has reached a point of no return; we have reach a point where we cannot jettison the exercise.
“We have done the digital mapping and we have done the census pre-test and everything was successful. We therefore want to assure Nigerians that the figures that will come out at the end of the exercise will be the exact figures.
The Chairman commended President Muhammadu Buhari who despite the challenges facing the country was committed to having the country conduct a successful population census.
He also commended Governor Samuel Ortom for supporting the exercise stating that the commitment showed the Governor’s understanding of the importance of demographic data to the development of the state
“That is why I urge Benue people to present themselves to be counted”, he said.
Declaring the Summit open, Governor Ortom said the meeting availed traditional rulers and stakeholders necessary information that would help them support the exercise better.
While urging the people of the state to deemphasize politics and support the conduct of the exercise to ensure its success, Ortom said.”
Rising Insecurity In S’West Bothers Traditional Rulers, Experts
Security experts, traditional rulers and other professionals have raised alarm over the rising wave of insurgence in the South West region, attributing it to the non-commitment of the Federal Government and its agencies to the protection of lives and property of the citizenry.
The experts made the assertion at a workshop organized by “The Yoruba Leadership Peace and Initiatives” with the theme “Safety and Security in Yorubaland”, in Ibadan.
The Chairman, Western Security Network, Oyo State, Brigadier General Kunle Togun, (rtd), Rear Admiral Leye Jayeola, Orangun of Oke Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin and other speakers noted with dismay the rising waves of insecurity, its economic impact and threat to the lives of the people.
General Togun submitted that the government has failed in its constitutional responsibility of protecting the lives and property of its citizenry as there are daily reported cases of kidnapping, killings and other heinous acts nationwide
He said, “the way we are practising the adopted presidential system of government is not the same way it is being practised in the United States of America.
“Each state in America”, according to him, “operates under separate laws, which enable the establishment of state police. But in Nigeria, the reverse is the case”.
The former top military brass, who advocated for the establishment of State Police for effective policing, blamed the Federal Government for frustrating the efforts of the Western Security Networks, code-named Amotekun, to arm its men with sophisticated weapons to combat bandits, kidnappers and perpetrators of other heinous acts.
“Amotekun can only arrest and investigate but cannot prosecute offenders. But the sad aspect of it is that after arrest and investigation, the police authorities will release the suspect under the excuse that it is a bailable offence.
“Also, while local vigilantes and Neighbourhood watch from other regions are allowed to carry Ak-47, Amotekun is only licenced to carry Dane guns to combat criminals with sophisticated weapons.
“If truly, we are practising a presidential system of government, what is obtainable in the US should be obtainable in Nigeria as well”, he emphasized.
Speaking in the same vein, Rear Admiral Leye Jaiyeola (rtd) stated that Nigeria Police has the capability to curtail the activities of the kidnappers and bandits, if trained, equipped and motivated.
He added that the military is not trained to handle civil cases except in extreme situations but the police are trained in this aspect.
In her presentation, a University don, Dr Modupe Albert, called for synergy among the various security agencies.
According to her, we need synergy among the various security agencies to combat kidnapping, banditry and other vices in the region.
On his part, the Orangun of Oke-Ila, Osun State, Oba Adedokun Abolarinwa, blamed insurgence on poverty and unemployment.
He said insecurity would continue to persist once youth across the nation are not productive and engaged to contribute to the development of the country.
He, therefore, urged stakeholders in Yorubaland not to see the security of the region as the sole duty of the government, but as the duty of all, adding that democracy and stability cannot thrive without security.
According to him, Yoruba people should put aside their personal interests and differences and support the call for the security of the lives and property of people in the region.
In his words, “poverty in the land is caused by unemployment. Let’s attack the issue of poverty in the rural areas, let’s be our brother’s keepers and chart a pathway to unite and tackle insecurity in this region.
“Let us all get involved, we cannot afford to leave everything to the government, we traditional rulers have our role to play in the safety of Yorubaland and everybody also has to contribute their quota towards the security of our region.
“There can’t be development without security, all hands must be on deck.
FG Moves To Protect Children In Digital Environment
In a bid to protect children in today’s varied digital world, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the National Child Online Protection Policy and Strategy.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Malam Isah Pantami, disclosed this while speaking with newsmen at the end of the Cabinet Meeting in Abuja last Wednesday.
Pantami said the policy was in line with the International Telecommunication Union’s policy document for all its member countries and aimed at protecting children from the harmful side of the digital environment.
“There are many benefits of going online; the world population reached 10 billion on November 15, 2022.
“Today, we have around 6.3 billion people online and by implication, among this number, you will discover many children.
“They will not be able to differentiate what is beneficial and what is harmful.
“According to a report by the International Telecommunication Union, more than one billion children were online during COVID-19 lockdowns for their studies because schools were shut.
“Today, without any solicitation, you will discover that many things are coming into your device on-line and unsolicited,’’ the Minister said.
Pantami said children would not beable to avoid such unsolicited items online which would definitely affect their innocence morally and otherwise.
“The document has been titled: `keeping children safe in the digital environment’.
“All member countries have been urged to ensure they come up with a policy where children will be protected.
“It is because of this that we organised stakeholder engagement, where we invited around 37 institutions of government since it is multi-sector issue.
“The Ministry of Information and Culture, the National Broadcasting Commission and the National Orientation Agency, among others, have roles to play.
“The Office of the National Security Adviser and other security agencies have roles to play; the Ministry of Justice has a role to play to differentiate what is legal and what is illegal,’’ Pantami added.
He said the cabinet also approved the Nigeria Data Protection Bill to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of data being submitted to government and to other institutions.
The Minister said FEC also approved the National Duct One Policy aimed at institutionalising the provision of ducts during construction at federal, state a local government levels.
“This is the global best practice today.
“Before construction and even during the conceptualisation and design, there should be provision for ducts for road construction, bridges, rail lines, sea ports, and any important building,’’ Pantami said.
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