National Assembly Faults NDLEA’s Foreign Mission Attache’s Request, Visa Charge
The National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency has advocated the need to send its personnel to Nigerian missions abroad as drug attachés.
The NDLEA made the request on Thursday in its presentation at a one-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics on a bill to amend the National Drugs Law Enforcement Act.
According to Punch, the Director General /Secretary of the NDLEA, Shadrach Haruna, said, “Section 45 is amended by adding a new subsection 3 which reads that, ‘The agency may in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or any ministry known by whatsoever name responsible for foreign affairs of the country, to appoint a drug attaché from among its staff to serve in any Nigerian diplomatic mission abroad.’
“The amendment of Section 45 is to empower the agency to appoint Drug Attachés to any country of choice in consultation with the Ministry in charge of foriegn affairs.”
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who represented the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on the occasion, however, said the nation might not be able to afford a drug attaché in its foreign missions.
Oloriegbe said, “Do you know the cost implication of that vis a vis the load of work and then the relevance of that in all our missions abroad?
“Now, even the staff that we have who are the core staff, there are challenges in terms of payments.
“What you are trying to do is to create another corps that would be on drug desks in other countries and they will be a drain on national resources.”
Responding to Oloriegbe’s concerns, the NAFDAC DG said some country really required the assistance of drug attachés.
Lawan, in his speech delivered by Oloriegbe said that the National Assembly was focused on strengthening regulatory mechanisms to ensure that “our values as Nigerians do not suffer degeneration as a result of drug abuse.”
The Senate President said the issue of drug abuse in the country “has become a hazard” too difficult to ignore.
Lawan said, “We (National Assembly) have severally demonstrated that we cannot allow the degeneration of our values, through drugs, and other substances, considering our concerted quest for growth.
“The bill before us is yet another attempt at strengthening the regulatory mechanism on drug abuse, following loopholes in the extant law.”
Meanwhile, the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has protested against the non-refundable N10,000 special charges imposed by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency on Nigerians seeking visa clearance to certain countries.
Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, in a statement on Thursday, noted that while the caucus is not against any genuine visa clearance measures, especially those placed to curb drug trafficking and other criminal tendencies, it was however concerned about “policies such as fees that tend to place undue pressure on innocent citizens.”
The minority caucus urged the NDLEA to “take steps that will lead to an immediate review of the non-refundable fee to an affordable amount.”