Editors Note; originally published in Independent
Indications were rife at the weekend that the Federal Government will inaugurate a presidential investigative panel to probe alleged financial infractions in the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), under Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (rtd), According to daily independent.
President Muhammadu Buhari has also approved the appointment of former Military Administrator of Lagos and Borno States, Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd) as the new chairman of the agency.
The appointment takes immediate effect, as the new helmsman is expected to assume office this week.
An ally of President Buhari, Marwa had worked assiduously as Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) between 2018 and December, 2020.
He, along with others, had developed a blueprint on how to end drug abuse in Nigeria.
Highly polished, intellectually deep and a pan-Nigerian, Marwa was once military attaché, Nigerian Embassy, Washington DC, USA, and defence attaché, United Nations, New York, as well as former ambassador to South Africa and the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
He obtained a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and another Master’s degree in International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.
These are in addition to his training in the Nigerian Military School and the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna.
Sunday Independent gathered that the imminent investigative panel would look into all the financial infractions at the NDLEA from January 2016 to January 2021.
“The panel will investigate any other matter that will make for the strengthening of the operations of the NDLEA and also make appropriate recommendations, including but not limited to restructuring of all affected departments and or disciplinary actions for all found culpable.
“It will look into all cases of gross misconduct involving all officers and others that are contrary to the Public Service Rules and 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and particularly disobedience to Ministerial Directives and Federal Executive Council Decisions,” said a reliable source.
Another source at the paramilitary agency lamented the sad events of Abdallah’s last 48 hours in office, saying it further opened up a can of worms on how terrible the agency was mismanaged under his watch.
The source noted: “In a desperate attempt to cover up the financial misappropriation, indiscriminate awards of marks to candidates and unprecedented manipulation, he blatantly disobeyed the directive of the Attorney General and Honourable Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to stay action on the recruitment exercise.”
It added that the inconclusive recruitment by Abdallah did not follow the minimum selection standard in the agency.
“Also, the process contravenes the principles of Federal Character. Usually a committee is constituted by drawing officers from Administration, Personnel and Training. However, Abdallah completely allowed such a sensitive process to be handled by a private firm.
“This is sad and unfortunate as requirements like age, height, certificate and medical fitness were compromised.”
Another source lamented how the NDLEA missed out under Abdallah from participating at the prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Jos, Plateau State.
He said: “under Abdallah, the agency lost its slots and the aspirations of officers becoming Fellows of the Institute with their colleagues in the military and paramilitary organisations were dashed by Abdallah’s refusal to pay the required course fees.”
A massive age falsification fraud and transfer of service manipulations by some very top ranking officers were also discovered in the agency.
While the age fraud was allegedly perpetrated during the Federal Government’s shift to the Integrated Personnel Payroll Integration System (IPPIS), the transfer of service manipulations were done at the point of entry.
“The scandal was blown open by a petition to the President. Consequently, Abdallah was directed by the Presidency to act accordingly.
“Unfortunately, because the former Director of Administration and Finance, Mr. Yohanna-Sila Mshelia, was involved with other directors, Abdallah could not carry out a comprehensive and non-biased investigation.
“Yohanna-Sila was employed on August 21, 1998 with a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) on grade level 14. This was how most of the directors were unduly elevated contrary to the Civil Service regulations.
“Abdallah covered up for most of the directors affected in this scandal. In a display of selective justice, Abdallah only asked Dr. Opara Lawrence and Bala Fage to go on retirement.
“There are many top ranking officers that manipulated their ages as well as entry procedures under the guise of transfer of service that ought to have retired but are still in service. All such individuals must be shown the way out of the Agency,” our source lamented.
Sunday Independent also learnt that Abdallah stopped the payment of monthly running cost to commanders since 2016.
“His hobby is to collect foreign travel allowances, even if there is no justification for the trip. When he could no longer travel out of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he started collecting money under the guise of local travels that never took place on monthly basis.
“An estimated N2.8 billion monthly allocation to the agency is said to have been misappropriated by Abdallah during his tenure.”
It was learnt that Abdallah never released money for the funding of operational activities, and this had denied the agency of spectacular seizures leading to the dismantling of drug trafficking cartels.
However, Sunday Independent gathered the former chairman directed the payment of operational cost a day after he was asked to handover to the secretary, Shadrach Haruna, and backdated it for the month of December 2020.
“Officers are in deep pain, frustration and disenchantment over their career stagnation. How do you expect an officer with three promotion arrears to be committed to the job?
“The NDLEA officer is one of the least paid among paramilitary personnel in the country. There are no allowances to justify the hazards of the job.
“When officers are attacked or die on the line of duty, it is fellow officers that contribute from their meagre salaries in support of such colleagues.
“The most recent case is the Hung (Adamawa State) attack in October 2020 where an officer Samuel Abba was burnt to death and Tope Omopu was left in a critical state. Abdallah did nothing to the family of the dead and Tope Omopu that is battling for survival. We are psychologically tortured daily by the economic hardship confronting officers.
“Only N50, 000 was given to families of three officers, Onwumere Nicholas, Peter Ebun and Abdulrahman Musa, who were shot dead in Kogi State on October 13, 2017, by gunmen. This is unbelievable.
“Even when the Edo State Command headquarters in Benin City, Orlu in Imo and Nnewi in Anambra were destroyed during the #ENDSARS protest in October, 2020, Abdallah never visited the affected commands,” lamented another source.
Sale Of Chairman’s House
The former chairman was also alleged to have sold the official quarters for the Chairman at George Street Ikoyi, Lagos.
He was also accused of selling part of the Shaw Road, Ikoyi Lagos premises of the agency.
“This is a man who never acquired a property for the agency, yet he had the audacity to sell what he met. Major General Musa Baimayi of blessed memory that is credited with acquiring property for the agency across the country never sold one,” the source claimed.
Another officer said that the agency had suffered so much under Abdallah and the following steps should be taken to rectify the abnormalities.
“The Director of Administration should be separated from Finance. Finance directorate should be headed by a qualified financial expert.
“There should be proper placement of officers to address the lack of promotion and low morale.
“Provision of medical care to officers in serious challenge like Tope Omopu that was recently attacked and others requiring intensive medical attention.
“Fill Command appointment vacancies and transfer officers and commanders that have overstayed in one beat.
“Investigation of age fraud and transfer of service by high ranking officers who manipulated their ways to the top and be shown the way out. Improve the salary and provide operational logistics.
“Reversal of the sold Chairman Quarters and part of Shaw Road official premises. Restoration of the agency’s quota at National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies NIPSS.
“Investigate the allegations of abnormalities regarding the Abdallah-led recruitment and conduct a fresh exercise by the agency staff thereby giving Nigerians a level playing ground.
“Construction of State Command headquarters and Drug Rehabilitation centres across the country, among others.
“There should be a comprehensive probe of Abdallah’s tenure and a change of key accounts personnel used in transferring funds indiscriminately.”
Several futile attempts were made to speak with General Marwa at press time.
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