NASS narcotic committees move to strengthen NDLEA, curb drug abuse scourge
The joint National Assembly committees on narcotics and substance abuse have stepped up efforts to strengthen the law establishing the NDLEA by fine-tuning it to make the agency more efficient in carrying out the tasks before it.
This comes even as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organised a 2-Day Sensitisation and Drug Prevention Training cum a 3- Day session for Senators and House of Representatives members to meet with other stakeholders and experts to review the law establishing the NDLEA.
Chairman, House Committee on Narcotic Drugs, Rep. Francis Ottah Agbo, chaired the session, which analysed and deliberated on the items on the bills being proposed by the National Assembly to amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Act Cap 30 Laws Of the Federation Of Nigeria (LFN) and to strengthen the NDLEA.
The session was preceded by the two-day training which focussed on appreciating the depth of the drug scourge globally and how best to tackle it.
The amendments sought by the Senate Committee headed by Sen. Hezekiah Dimka, Plateau Central, are in the areas of strengthening the NDLEA by proposing the establishment of additional scientific laboratories for the agency, increase in amount of fines for punishment and others.
The House of Representatives Committee is seeking an amendment to make the agency financially independent and to get first line funding from the Presidency.
The lower chamber is also proposing an amendment to the Police Trust Fund ( Establishment) Act to make the NDLEA a beneficiary of the fund, as well as an amendment to the principal act establishing the NDLEA by enabling it undertake drug tests on those seeking elective offices, military and paramilitary personnel and others such as fresh students in tertiary institutions, aviators, navigators, drivers etc.
The NDLEA also took the opportunity to make its input and also suggested various ways it can be made more effective to carry out its functions.
It suggested areas such as increase in fine, transfer of seized substances and persons arrested by sister agencies to the agency for prosecution, granting it more powers to review and establish units, directorates or departments within it as deems necessary.
At the end of the session as common positions which would not encumber the laws but make it more implementable were adopted.
Rep Ottah Agbo while presiding, noted the commitment of participants and commended his colleagues for coming out to give in their best, as well as the other stakeholders and experts who made useful contributions.
He also commended the UNODC for organizing the Retreat, saying it would go a long way in helping Nigeria win the drug war.
Barring any hitches, it is expected that the National Assembly will hold a public hearing based on the recommendations to provide adequate laws for the fight against the drug problem.
The NDLEA was established by the Ibrahim Babangida administration in 1989, to among other things, prosecute the “war” against illicit drug traffic, consumption of narcotic drugs and the investigation and prosecution of offenders.