HIGHWAY EXTORTION: NDLEA Says Dismissal, Prosecution Await Erring Officials

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, says it has stringent measures against any form of corrupt act by its personnel while urging motorists and road users in Nigeria to report unwholesome activities by agency officials.

In an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja, NDLEA Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, said the agency has put measures in place to fight corruption internally and will not hesitate to wield the big stick on any staff found culpable of fraud.

He said officials know that what awaits them is dismissal and prosecution if they are found guilty of extortions and bribes.

NDLEA’s reaction is coming on the backdrop of an investigative report published by Human Angle Media which alleges that officials of the agency and five other security agencies are extorting money from motorists and road users at checkpoints along Maiduguri highways, Borno state.

NDLEA Spokesperson, Femi Babafemi 

The NDLEA spokesperson, however, insisted that the agency staff are not known for extorting motorists on Nigerian roads because they understand the enormity of engaging in corrupt acts, which attracts both sack and prosecution according to the law. Additionally, agency officials deployed at various checkpoints across Nigeria are trained to do their job professionally.

“When you see officers of the agency on the highway, their responsibility purely is to check for drugs and not anything else, and so if you’re not trafficking or carrying drugs, you have no business with them.

“Rather, what people complain about NDLEA personnel on the roads is a delay in time used in searching vehicles which I don’t encourage,” Babafemi stressed.

On measures to check corruption within the agency, he explained that “NDLEA Chairman, Buba Marwa set up monitoring units that report to him directly and a taskforce team that investigates activities of personnel and handout disciplinary measures.

“Public service rules are taken seriously, and this helps make the personnel behave well. Also, recruiting people into the agency is top-notch, and this is to ensure persons of integrity are recruited into NDLEA,” he asserted.

Babafemi called on Nigerians to assist the agency in spreading the advocacy against the trafficking of illicit drugs and substance use, stressing that many harmful substances are seized from highways, and people are arrested for trafficking drugs now and then.

Presenters of the radio programme interacting with NDLEA spokesperson

He said the agency has been partnering with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) at the federal, subnational and local levels in the fight against the trafficking of illicit drugs while expressing readiness and willingness of NDLEA to partner with PRIMORG and other organizations.

The NDLEA spokesperson urged investigative journalists and other media organizations to concretize their stories with evidence to help the agency take action against personnel indicted.

On his part, an investigative journalist with Human Angle Media, Ijasini Ijani, said motorists are not able to resist giving money to security officials at checkpoints due to fear of being delayed while alleging that extorting of motorists on the Maiduguri highways is allegedly spearheaded by the Nigerian Army and the Police.

The report also indicted the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC.

PRIMORG had written to the NIS and the Nigeria Police Force for their responses to the allegation. At the same time, the Nigerian Army and FRSC failed to turn up for the radio programme despite being notified of the program.

From left: NDLEA Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi; PRIMORG’s Programme Manager and Media & Communications Officer, Dr Adaobi Obiabunmuo and Chidozie Ogbonnaya.

Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program PRIMORG uses to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.

The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.

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