The Senate has mandated its Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes to investigate the alleged deployment of 2,000 untrained armed bearing recruits of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) across the country.
It then directed the NDLEA to immediately withdraw such recruits deployed to the offices of the agency across the country.
The Senate directive is sequel to a motion moved by a Senator, Heineken Lopkobiri, on the deployment of recruits of the NDLEA without training.
He noted the sensitive role of the agency required that its personnel be trained and retrained in basic and modern drug law enforcement and security management.
“NDLEA personnel should not only be trained in basic law enforcement but be trained and retrained in contemporary drug law enforcement and security management.
“Nigeria and Nigerians would be at grave risk in the deployment of untrained persons in a drug law enforcement agency,” he said.
The Chairman of Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Victor Lar, said the level of underfunding of the NDLEA in the last four years calls for serious concern.
“The pathetic plight of the NDLEA has reached a stage, where we need to establish a national disaster plan to revive the agency.
“In the last four years, not a dime has been given to the NDLEA Training School in Jos. There is no insurance cover for the personnel engaged in hazardous duties,” he said.
Another senator, Dahiru Kuta, urged the government to review its budgetary process with a view to providing fixed allocation to its agencies.
“The NDLEA is understaffed and cannot cover all the nooks and crannies of the country.
“It’s important that the government of the day reviews its budgetary process. The Senate should make appropriate budgetary allocations to those agencies that perform unique duties.
In the same vein, Nkechi Nwaogu, another senator, said the deplorable state of the NDLEA is an indictment on the legislature for abdicating its power of making appropriations to the executive arm of government.
“Recently, our budget has become mere rubber stamping of executive proposals by the National Assembly. This is unfortunate.
“I call on us to take back our responsibility of appropriating funds for government agencies as provided for in the constitution,” she said.
Furthermore, Ahmed Lawan urged the Senate to carry out its oversight functions with seriousness. He also called on the senate to provide adequate funding through supplementary budget to agencies, whose functions were crucial to the nation’s development.
“It’s an indictment of the Executive and also an indictment of the Legislature.
“We must take our oversight functions very seriously. If we had done that we would have discovered that no funds were provided for training over the years.
Hope Uzodinma, a senator representing Imo State urged the Senate to address the problem of underfunding affecting the agency.
“I urge the Senate to do whatever is necessary to ensure proper funding for NDLEA, which is an agency that mirrors Nigeria’s image abroad. To provide arms to an untrained person amounts to arming a robber or even a bomber,” he added.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over Thursday’s Plenary, said the training of NDLEA personnel is a crucial element for effective performance.
“The essence of training cannot be over-emphasised. It is essential to train these personnel to equip them with the capacity to detect illicit drugs and enforcement of drug laws.” Mr. Ekweremadu said.