By Toyin Raheem
Precisely 7pm on Friday while searching the internet for subjects of interest to write on, I stumbled on one a journalist friend sent to me via whatsapp on Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd) and NDLEA obviously because of my keen interest on the ongoing war against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.
Titled; “Alleged mismanagement of N467m: Marwa shuns senate investigative hearing” Merely reading the headline, you would naturally assume Marwa has been caught involved in the mismangement of the fund mentioned. But alas, going through it, you would conveniently and logically conclude that Marwa is the subject of desperate blackmail, most likely from some elements at the receiving end of the drug war he’s currently leading in the country or possibly by some others who abuse their privileged position in the legislative arm of the government to harass and blackmail heads of MDAs for pecuniary reasons.
Whatever the case maybe, I knew it was a matter of time before we get to this point. From my little corner, months back when I noticed the ruthlessness with which Marwa was dealing blows on drug cartels that had hitherto been operating unhindered, I knew they were going to start one of these things: attempt his life; go after his reputation or attempt to slow him down through some legislative hearings and panels.
As a retired infantry Army General, I know the first option would be a herculean task because it must be a suicide mission for anyone attempting such knowing fully he would always be prepared without a moment to let down his guard. The second and the third options appear would be their easiest. And that’s exactly what I’m seeing playing out with the Senator Matthew Urhoghide-led Committee on Public Accounts.
After my extensive interation with my journalist friend who sent it to me obviously because he wanted me to share the story on the whatsapp platform of the Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Governance, CACOBAG, I discovered certain things. One, the issues raised in the report against NDLEA allegedly happened in 2015, more than six years before the coming of Marwa as Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency. So, why the desperation to drag Marwa into the headline? Two, the same friend who was helping the senator to spread the report told me that it appears Marwa was not even aware of the committee invitation because their findings from the agency revealed they didn’t get the notice of the meeting. Three, the same person told me things like this are the usual tools to get the attention and patronage of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs. My question is, who did this to us? I have also read a reaction from the agency and I quote its spokesman, “I have checked through all the relevant channels within the Agency and nobody is aware or has received any such invitation from the Senate Committee. I’m however aware that the issues raised had been adequately addressed by the previous leadership of the agency long before the incumbent Chairman/Chief Executive came into office.” With this brief response, I’m equally convinced that there’s an ulterior motive propelling those behind this report.
I know NDLEA has of late been destroying hundreds of hectares of cannabis farms and mopping up tens of kilograms of assorted illicit drugs from the streets of Edo state where Senator Urhoghide comes from but I will at this point stop my mind from going along that line. Whatever the case may be, I believe strongly that the desperation to push out that misleading story about the man and the agency doing the country proud in the fight against the drug scourge is cheap blackmail and in bad faith. Nigeria does not need that nauseating distraction at this point when we are all faced with serious security challenges fuelled by the drug menace.
*Alhaji Toyin Raheem is the Chairman of Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Governance, CACOBAG and writes from Abule Egba, Lagos