By Bukar Bolori
The leading and foremost civil rights advocacy group; the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has named the Executive Chairman of the Nigerian Drugs Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); Buba Marwa the Human Rights Man of the Year for 2022
HURIWA in a statement in lieu of the December 10 International Human Rights Day described Mohammed Buba Marwa as the most influential Nigerian in 2022, adding that he is one person who has officially and personally affected the news and lives more than any other Nigerian from whatever standpoint one looks at it.
“Several polls conducted have shown a clear consensus that Mohammed Buba Marwa is one Nigerian who has personally and officially affected the news and lives of Nigerians the most in recent times, with his very aggressive but human rights-based approach to drug policy.
“In just 24 months, Marwa has not just earned the image of the protagonist of the most topical human rights and developmental issues but as well distinguished himself as a courageous and insightful leader who understands the urgent need to embrace a multi-dimensional and holistic approach that aims to mitigate the harm done by drug use instead of the retrogressive traditional just-say-no-ism of past Chief Executives”, HURIWA noted.
The statement signed by HURIWA’s National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko further revealed the many areas, NDLEA has been seen to be blazing the trail in drug law enforcement and how the approach adopted by the Marwa-led administration is winning the confidence of Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora.
Highlighting the innovative approaches adopted by Marwa, HURIWA defined him as a very focused and assiduous person who plans, asserting that his tenure as Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA), which laid the groundwork for the total overhaul of NDLEA, ensured he arrived at NDLEA with a blueprint.
“Within 24 months, his plans are taking shape and it is obvious to the public that he and his management team are caught in a historic moment and process of rebuilding NDLEA into an institution that will stand the test of time.
“One of the approaches adopted by Marwa is the collaboration with the Nigerian movie industry in the drug war. In his view, millions of young people watching Nigerian movies, even as they admire star actors, will be easily sensitised on the dangers of drug abuse through didactic stories.
“To achieve this, NDLEA opted for the United Nations Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking to release engaging flicks that will aid their work. For the second year in a row, NDLEA has celebrated the UN Special Day with new movies.
“Again, the seizure of a massive crack cocaine haul in September, which was described by the spokesperson of the Agency as “the biggest singular cocaine seizure in the history of Nigeria’s premier anti-narcotic agency,” tells volumes about the new life Marwa has breathed into the agency.
“Also, the arrest, detention, and ongoing prosecution of the highly decorated policeman; DCP Abba Kyari, who seemingly lived a secret life of serial criminality while allegedly fighting crime is the defining initiative of NDLEA under the former military governor’s watch”, HURIWA said.
Continuing, HURIWA informed that Marwa’s NDLEA is making a strong overall impact beyond high-profile cases. A fact-finding mission by HURIWA revealed that 19,341 drug traffickers were arrested between January 2021 and September 31, 2022, in addition to securing 3,111 convictions, and seized 5,451,000kg of illicit drugs within the same period.
More so, cash and drugs worth N420 billion were forfeited to the agency, while cannabis farms of 714 hectares were destroyed within the period under review, just as the group added that the agency is prosecuting over 3,232 cases in court and has also counseled and rehabilitated 12,326 drug addicts within the same time frame.
No doubt, in a country where issues are profoundly politicized and achievements of public officers viewed with distrust and x-rayed for ulterior motives, HURIWA stated that Marwa has proven to be an exception.
“Nigerians both home and in the diaspora from all walks of life, across political divides, from different religious leanings, and of diverse ethnicities, are in one accord in their appraisal of him, his reforms, leadership, and transformation of NDLEA – a testament to the Nigerian dream.
“Discussions about him invariably always narrow down to the question of what makes Marwa tick as a leader. But more than that, he has been revealed as the ideal 21st-century leader who irrespective of extenuating factors, has shown noticeable commitment to democratic ideals and issues of development
“Beyond this, Marwa has continued to advance a pragmatic approach to giving the NDLEA workforce improved work conditions. So far, there have been promotions, payment of allowances, and other constructive developments that give hope to the Agency’s staff.
“Many pundits and the media have termed his tenure so far as different in the annals of the Agency. Within 24 months, his plans are taking shape and it is obvious to the public that he and his management team are caught in a historic moment and process of rebuilding NDLEA into an institution that will stand the test of time”, HURIWA further explained.
Therefore, HURIWA acknowledged that 23 years after leaving the military in his mid-forties, Mohammed Buba Marwa is back in the headlines in a very different role from combatting armed robbery or addressing food contamination to making a high-profile impact in a prominent public position in the nation’s drugs fighting agency – Thus Human Rights Man of The Year for 2022
While informing that the award investiture will be done at a later date before the year ends, HURIWA calls for all stakeholders to support the commitment and will of the Marwa-led administration in helping the Agency continue rising to the challenge of its mandate in eliminating the cultivation, processing, manufacturing, sale, trafficking, and use of illicit drugs and psychotropic substances.