A reputational crisis is about to erupt in the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), following an accusation by some officers that the agency’s Chairman, Colonel Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (retd.), is friends with drug barons and sundry criminals.
Colonel Abdallah has also been accused of frittering the sum of N528 million, the equivalent of 85 percent of the agency’s monthly allocation for two years, on inappropriate foreign travels.
The allegations were contained in a petition signed by one Mr. Musa Ahmed Yusuf on behalf a group that calls itself Concerned Officers. According to the petition, the NDLEA Chairman spends an average of N11 million monthly on foreign trips. This, said the staff, has ensured that the welfare of low and medium level as well as top management staff is neglected.
The petition, dated 6 November and exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, was copied to the Senate Committee on Drugs and Financial Crimes, House Committee on Drugs & Financial Crimes, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, National Security Adviser, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Femi Falana Chambers.
The petitioners mentioned the case of Mr. Buruji Kashamu, the senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, as one of the high profile cases swept under the carpet by Abdallah due to personal interest. They added that many high profile drug cases have also been covered up by the Colonel Abdallah-led management.
Because of his willingness to do deals with drug offenders, alleged the petitioners, drug barons in the United States of America have become more emboldened, leading to an increase in their activities. On account of this, stated the petitioners, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Corruption (UNODC), a strong ally of Nigeria in the fight against drug trafficking, now has a frosty relationship with the country.
The petitioners pointed out that the UNODC and other allies of the country were absent from the ceremony commemorating the 2017 World Drug Day in Abuja.
Since Colonel Abdallah took over two years ago, the staff further alleged, there has been a sharp dip in the frequency of arrests and drug seizures, a development that is making NDLEA facilities across the country brim with drug-dependent persons seeking rehabilitation.
“In the history of the NDLEA, drug barons have not had a better time than now. In fact, they are having a field day, producing and selling drugs to the detriment of the country. Abdallah has not taken steps to checkmate the activities of drug barons,” Concerned Staff stated in the petition.
The petition further quoted a 24 July 2017 circular (Ref NDLEA/ADM/400/2/V/124), titled “Re: ‘Voluntary Donation for the Families of Our Officers who Died in Active Service”, as an indication of Colonel Abdallah’s loss of vision. Three NDLEA officers (Onwumere Nicholas, Peter Ebun, and Abdulrahman Musa), said the petitioners, were killed by gunmen in Kogi State on 13 October. The gunmen made away with their rifles. According to the petitioners, the NDLEA gave the families of the deceased officers a total sum of N50,000, amounting to N16,600 for each family.
“There is no succor for both the living and the dead. This situation has heightened the frustration of officers concerning the criminal neglect by a callous management. The deplorable and extreme hardship is unbearable,” the petition added.
The NDLEA Chairman is also facing the allegation of appointing misfits into key positions. For instance, he allegedly appointed one Mr. Yohanna Sila Mshelia, a lawyer without a financial background, as Director, Administration, and Finance. This is said to have been a boon to his spendthrift nature. The disaffected staff called for immediate suspension of Colonel Abdallah and Mr. Mshelia as well as the appointment of a more competent person with integrity, preferably a retired Major-General or an Inspector-General of Police, to correct the administrative abnormalities in the agency.
They equally demanded an exercise of immediate harmonization and proper placement of officers. This, they said, will compensate staff, who have endured years of stagnation, and ensure that those who were over-promoted will be brought back to their appropriate ranks.
Also being demanded is the provision of life insurance policy for staff and prosecution of Colonel Abdallah for the grief experienced by families of deceased officers. Other demands include better remuneration, decent offices provision of drug control technological tools, and increased funding/provision of logistic support for the agency such as operational vehicles, scanning machines, sniffer dogs, rehabilitation centers and public enlightenment programs.