Reps move to grant NDLEA autonomy

By Christiana Ekpa

The House of Representatives Committee on Drugs and Narcotics has revealed that Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is carrying out its operations on proceeds from charity, even as it has moved to grant the agency autonomy.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Francis Agbo (PDP-Benue) made the disclosure at his committee’s inaugural meeting in Abuja.
He said he will also sponsor a Bill for an Act to separate the agency from the control of the Ministry of Justice and grant it both administrative and financial independence.
Hon. Agbo who tasked members of his Committee on commitment to drug abuse eradication, regretted that the NDLEA was incapacitated by poor funding.
“If we do our job very well as members of this very important Committee, we’ll be salvaging this Country, because almost every crime in this country; call it Boko Haram, kidnapping, cultism, bunkering, armed robbery etc are drug-induced. But unfortunately, the NDLEA completely survives on charity, so there is little or nothing they can do. So, we must do our best to have an NDLEA that is positioned to fight drug abuse.
“This is an agency that was set up in 1989, but after 30years, nothing has changed. Because the agency that was established to prosecute drug users, is completely underfunded.
“It’s appalling to note that, Nigeria has only 8 sniffer dogs, which were supplied to us by Germans. Another problem is that, the agency has not recruited properly since 1989.
“So we (lawmakers) must work together to ensure that this is tackled. We must work hard to insulate the NDLEA from the Ministry of Justice. The money NDLEA has as running cost, is less than N200million, even though about N8 billion was voted for them in the 2019 budget of the Ministry of Justice, NDLEA has one vehicle to 6 local governments, with only two personnel per local government. So I am sponsoring a Bill to give NDLEA autonomy from the Ministry of Justice, and I want you all to support that Bill”, he stated.
Hon. Agbo said the Committee will press hard to secure autonomy for the NDLEA, and also ensure adequate funding for it in the 2020 budget.
He disclosed that the Committee has also summoned NDLEA, to appear before it tomorrow, for its budget defence.
The House is currently considering budgets of Ministries and agencies of government. The budget-defence session, is expected to close next week.

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