November 6, 2017.
President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR,
Aso Rock Presidential Villa,
PRESIDENT BUHARI: SAVE NDLEA FROM DECADENCE
A passionate plea to President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently probe the Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) retired Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah and save the country from the tragic woes of irredeemable drug abuse and trafficking.
Abdallah has criminally amassed over 528 million naira from the monthly allocation of the Agency through inappropriate foreign travels without adding value to the Agency since he took over
two years ago. Abdallah who retired from the Nigerian army as a Colonel with a huge burden of inferiority complex has left no one in doubt that he lacks the strategic foresight to lead the Agency.
Under Abdallah, over sixty (60) officers have died in a short space of two years out of frustration and extreme despair. NDLEA has witnessed a high rate of voluntary retirement by officers under Abdallah’s dictatorship. Officers are deeply frustrated
with his leadership over lack of promotion, poor welfare package, and horribleworking conditions. In spite of a large number of officers who have died in the past two years, Abdallah did not see the justification for a life insurance scheme to cushion the hardship of officers and their family members. The situation has forced concerned observers to suggest that the NDLEA Act be urgently amended for theChairman/Chief Executive to among other qualifications be a very senior and experienced officer preferably a Major General or an Inspector General who will be selfless and boldly address the problems of officers. In addition, such an individual should also be subject to screening by the Senate as it is obvious that if Abdallah was
screened, he would not have gotten the job.
Obviously, the certificates paraded by Abdallah have not reflected in his performance thus far.
CORRUPTION IN NDLEA
Abdallah has exacerbated corruption in the Agency due to gross incompetence and his style of starving officers of money to run their commands. In the history of NDLEA, Abdallah has the worst record of not giving commanders funds to run their commands. As a matter of fact, it on record that commanders were only paid a paltry
sum of N130,000 once in February 2016 in two years. The House of Representative Committee on Drugs and Financial Crimes were shocked to observe that Abdallah spent over 85 percent of the monthly allocation to the Agency on frivolous foreign
travels but action is yet to be taken against him. Abdallah reportedly boasted that he campaigned vigorously for Mr. President and that he is untouchable.
This must be properly investigated as Nigerians deserve an explanation on how taxpayers money is spent. It should not be swept under the carpet. Each of his foreign trips gulps a minimum of eleven million naira (N11m) and he travels once and in some cases twice
in a month. This is the height of executive recklessness. Abdallah acts with an ungodly impunity by spending over 85 percent out of about 48 million naira monthly allocation on his foreign and local travels.
Commanders are left without money to run the commands. They cannot protest because such moves are interpreted as mutiny. Almost all the State command offices
across the country are in dire need of repairs. The buildings are dilapidated with leaking roofs, broken walls and fences as well as lack of office furniture.
Today, more than half of the commanders have about five years to their retirement yet they have been neglected by Abdallah. It is difficult to blame any commander that decides to compromise because Abdallah considers the monthly allocation to the Agency as his personal money. It is strange that he can be so unquestionable even in a democracy.
Not to be corrupt in NDLEA under Abdallah is a very difficult choice because officers operate without imprest and insurance cover. Those who are alive are familiar with the pains relatives of their late colleagues are passing through daily.
They seechildren of late officers dropping out of schools for lack of funds. Abdallah even shamelessly wrote a letter begging officers to contribute money from their meager salaries in support of dead colleagues as a replacement for the poor severance package.
If he was sincere, he would have insured the lives of officers.
In a circular with reference number NDLEA/ADM/400/2/V/124 released on July 24, 2017, with the heading Re: Voluntary Donation for the Families of Our Officers who Died in Active Service, Abdallah further exposed his lack of vision in leading the Agency.
There is a pathetic case of a female officer who died five years ago and her benefits are yet to be paid till date. Unfortunately, one of the deceased next of kin also died recently without getting a dime.
The list of unpaid claims to both living and deceased officers is endless. Three officers Onwumere Nicholas, Peter Ebun and Abdulrahman Musa recently shot dead in Kogi State on October 13, 2017, by gunmen who made away with their rifles reflects the hazardous and pathetic condition under which an NDLEA officer
Notwithstanding, Abdallah remains insensitive to the plight of officers. Femi Oloruntoba the director of technical services led two other directors to Kogi State to commiserate with the officers where he presented a paltry sum of fifty thousand naira (N50,000) on behalf of Abdallah to the families of the three officers killed in the State.
By simple arithmetic calculation, each of the deceased officers will
be given N16,600. If an officer dies, the Agency has no money to support the next of kin but Abdallah has millions to embark on fruitless foreign trips. There is no succour to 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 seven directors of the Agency are stooges under the retired colonel Abdallah who is ironically junior to them in rank. They consider Abdallah as doing them a favour by retaining them in office and cannot question his excesses.
They are only waiting for their retirement as they all have few years left in service. The directors were asked to go to Abuja under the phantom relocation of the national headquarters from Lagos to Abuja.
This administrative error notwithstanding, they moved their tables and chairs from Lagos to Abuja. Unfortunately, the furniture got
damaged in the process leaving the offices in Abuja and Lagos without furniture.
Now both the Chairman, the directors and a few staff that left Lagos are struggling for office space at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
The appointments of the directors without respect for professionalism has turned them to squared pegs in round holes. This is also deliberate for easy manipulation at the expense of progressive and innovative leadership in the Agency.
The current director of administration and finance, Yohanna Sila Mshelia is a lawyer with no knowledge of finance. This has made him lopsided in the disbursement of funds without respect to due process. A competent financial administrator will advise management on prudent and equitable disbursement as well as avoid criminal
payments that negate accounting principles. Unfortunately, after the Chairman has taken his lion share of the monthly allocation, the finance director smiles home with the leftover.
Mshelia who recently built two gigantic houses in Abuja unprofessionally issued a circular placing officers on an effective date of April 1, 2014, thereby making them lose over ten years seniority. This criminal forfeiture of officers’ hard-earned years of service must be investigated, reversed and the perpetrators severely punished.
The director of Technical Services, Femi Oloruntoba is a lawyer with no iota of technical skill in engineering. He was redeployed from the legal department following very disturbing allegations of connivance with accused persons to jump bail and evade justice.
Oloruntoba who lives ostentatious lifestyle was allegedly involved
in the recent supply of refurbished operational vehicles instead of brand new as provided for in the budget.
The former Assistant Director in charge of the internal audit, Obaniyi Sylvester Adeoye was vindictively removed from office and transferred to Yobe without an appointment in a transfer signed by Abdallah with reference NDLEA/ALS/ADM/65/VOL IV/32 dated July, 18 2017 for rejecting the refurbished vehicles.
When they realized that it may backfire, he was made an assistant
commander some weeks later. Officers consider these highhandedness and brazen disregard for law and administrative processes as one too many. Oloruntoba who is one of the kitchen cabinet members of Abdallah reportedly boasted that he is untouchable because Abdallah takes his advice uncensored.
Abdallah has crossed all the limits with his criminal insensitivity to the plight of officers. Under Abdallah, there is the widespread apprehension of witch-hunt, masterminded by inhuman and
oppressive policies. President Buhari should investigate these allegations of corruption and save officers from this cruelty.
PROMOTION IN NDLEA
The greatest disservice to any workforce is lack of promotion. NDLEA today is a house of indiscipline as irregular promotion exercise coupled with the questionable special promotion has made junior officers senior to their superiors.
Most officers have been stagnated in one rank for over ten years without any justifiable reason.
Officers that were due for promotion in 2009 were made to write promotion examination in 2013 and the promotion released in 2014. Rather than correct the anomalies, Abdallah did not see anything wrong in keeping officers stagnated because he retired as a middle-level officer. He was quoted as saying that promotion is not a right but a privilege and that promotion is not on his agenda.
His preoccupation is to enrich himself at the expense of officers. If ten years was taken out of his career in the Nigerian Army Abdallah would have retired below the rank of a captain.
Officers who have been cheated by his callous policies have become helpless especially those with a few years more in service. As they remain stagnated in one rank, their salaries, standard of living and pension contribution all have remain stunted over the years. Abdallah says there is no money for officers to write promotion examination yet he has enriched himself on needless travels with over 528 million naira.
Local debts in the Agency is over 800 million naira, yet Abdallah does not deem it necessary to be paying officers monthly from the Agency’s allocation. A few months ago, over 90 million said to have been paid to the Agency was forfeited to the Federal government because the money overstayed the stipulated duration without
it being utilized.
This is a serious administrative carelessness considering the debt
burden in the Agency.
ABDALLAH’S DIVIDE AND RULE POLICY
Abdallah is only concerned about how much he can get from the system because he is afraid he can be sacked for incompetence. He brought Dr. Ngozi Madubuike the former Plateau State commander and made her Principal Staff Officer Drug Demand Reduction in his office.
This was orchestrated to relegate the director of Drug Demand Reduction, Baba Husseini to the background. This expressly played out when Abdallah handed the management of the last International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking which holds on June 26 completely to Dr. Ngozi instead of the Director of Drug Demand Reduction whose purview it is to coordinate the commemoration. Baba Husseini was kept in the dark as his responsibilities were taken over by his subordinate. This is very sad. In fact, Abdallah’s excesses have become overbearing. Unless a drastic action is taken, NDLEA will drift apart under Abdallah’s divide and rule policy. Even administrative issues as the issuance of staff identity card had been ignored by Abdallah.
Today NDLEA officers carry identity cards that are not their actual ranks. This is unfortunate. It is now obvious that anything that will not benefit Abdallah financially must suffer.
FRATERNITY WITH DRUG BARONS
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. A very senior narcotic investigator said that he has never seen a man that is so morally depraved like Abdallah when it comes to high profile compromise. If he can sweep the case of senator Buruji Kashamu under the carpet due to personal interest, what
of other covert cases. This nonchalant attitude towards bringing drug barons to book is gradually affecting the cordial working relationship between the Agency and international collaborators like the United States Government, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Unlike in the past, these collaborators were conspicuously missing at the 2017 World Drug Day commemoration in Abuja.
During Abdallah, statistics of arrests and seizures have drastically gone down in corroboration of his lukewarm posture towards the drug war. There is serious pressure already as NDLEA facility across the country cannot accommodate the large number of drug dependent persons seeking for rehabilitation.
IMPLICATIONS FOR NIGERIA
According to the World Drug Report 2013, Nigeria is an important player in the global criminal drug business. Domestically there is evidence of a vibrant cannabis cultivation business which appears to be fueling a youthful domestic market and a possible export market with profit being assimilated unnoticed into the Nigerian
There is evidence of cocaine trafficking to the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe and heroin to the United States. These imply routes of supply to Nigeria since neither coca plant nor opium poppy is cultivated domestically.
The size of the domestic cocaine market is uncertain. Recent successes with the discovery of methamphetamine factories linked with a pattern of seizures on route by air to Malaysia is suggestive of a significant investment by criminals.
This has become more worrying by the arrest of South American nationals at such clandestine factories. Drug trafficking and abuse are on the increase with the rise in crime and insecurity. Urgent intervention is needed to reverse this ugly trend.
THE WAY FORWARD
In order to put the NDLEA back on the right track, the following recommendations are important.
• Immediate suspension of Abdallah as the Chairman and the Director of Administration and Finance for an independent investigation of the financial mismanagement in the Agency.
• A clinical probe of the financial recklessness of Abdallah by not paying imprest to commanders and the Director of Administration and Finance regarding the unjustifiable foreign travels used in draining the monthly allocation of the Agency.
• Appointment of a more senior, confident and visionary person to lead the Agency, preferably, a Major General or an Inspector General with a clean record of service to correct the administrative abnormalities
• Immediate cancellation of April 1, 2014, unilateral effective date so that officers can enjoy their hard-earned years of service.
• Immediate harmonization and proper placement of officers as compensation for the years of stagnation while those over promoted be brought to their normal rank.
• Immediate provision of life insurance policy and prosecution of Abdallah for the untold suffering of families of late officers.
• Improvement on working conditions, better remuneration, decent offices and use of latest technology in drug control
• Immediate payment of officers their outstanding benefits
• Increased funding/provision of logistic support for the Agency like operational vehicles, scanning machines, sniffer dogs, rehabilitation centers and public enlightenment programmes.
Musa Ahmed Yusuf
For Concerned Officers