Shocking revelations exposed by secret documents and internal communications at the Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) paint a picture of an organization in a state of chaos where free-for-all is the rule rather than the exception.
Beyond major corruption allegations made by senior officers within the agency in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and widely documented on TODAY NEWS AFRICA USA, the latest developments at the NDLEA have pushed officers on the brink of an internal revolt.
This is happening even as the officers revealed that the current directors blatantly disregarded the country’s public service regulation by sharing ranks indiscriminately among themselves at the point of entry.
According to Musa Ahmed Yusuf who spoke on behalf of concerned officers, the persistent and endless agitations of officers over administrative witch hunt and sundry allegations of corruption are all rooted in the faulty management foundation.
“The current face off between the officers and the management has to do with a national posting by Abdallah without the necessary transfer allowance. When officers die on active duty there is no money for burial expenses, when officers are transferred, there is no money yet there is money every month for irrelevant foreign travels by Abdallah. This is not only insensitive and an abuse of public office but also an outright leadership failure. Where will officers get money to proceed on such transfer?” Musa furiously asked.
Investigations have uncovered a shocking disregard of the federal civil service regulations by the Agency’s leadership. The Director of Administration and Finance, Yohanna Silah Mshelia, an Assistant Commander General of Narcotics (ACGN), was called to the Bar in 1984.
However he was employed in the agency on August 21, 1998 with a bachelor of law degree (LLB) on Grade Level 14. Similarly, the Director, Chairman/Chief Executive’s Office and Chief of Staff, Mr. Femi Amos Oloruntoba, was also called to the Bar in 1984. He joined the NDLEA on August 31, 1995 with a bachelor of law degree (LLB) on Grade Level 13.
Again, the Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Mr. Sunday Joseph Nbona, was called to the Bar in 1987. He also joined the NDLEA on September 7, 1994 with a bachelor of law degree (LLB) on Grade Level 14.
In the same vein, the Director of Planning and Establishment, Wusilat Audu, who was called to Bar in 1985 also joined the NDLEA on August 21, 1990 with a bachelor of law (LLB) degree on Grade Level 14.
The Director of Assets and Financial Investigation, Victoria Egbase joined the NDLEA on June 1, 1990 with a bachelor of law degree (LLB) on Grade Level 10. The list is endless among the top hierarchy of the NDLEA.
An appraisal of the entry positions of the current directors has opened up a can of worms as they were found to have joined the NDLEA as Principal Legal Officers on inflated grade levels. The flagrant disregard of the federal civil service entry positions based on their qualifications is a serious aberration that deserves immediate investigation and legal action; Musa Ahmed Yusuf stressed.
“It is madly infuriating the way they shared ranks indiscriminately among themselves, even when they had no previous work experience. They also manipulated their dates of birth at entry points so as to perpetuate themselves in office. Imagine some of them have been directors for over twenty-five years. This is why officers of the NDLEA are stagnated in one rank for decades. Even the State commanders have become career commanders for decades. While the directors and the State commanders are satisfied with the status quo, officers are groaning in utter neglect and impoverishment” another officer stated.
The current director of Administration and Finance, Yohanna Silah Mshelia, who is due for retirement on October 11, 2019 has vowed to mischievously extend his service with an additional two years with the support of Abdallah whom he has corruptly enriched with the Agency’s monthly allocation. In the words of Musa, “over half of fifty (50) million naira monthly allocations go to Abdallah since he assumed office in 2016. By simple arithmetic calculation, an average of twenty-five (25) million naira in the past 45 months will translate to over a billion naira stolen by Abdallah on frivolous foreign travels and corrupt accumulation of public funds. It is only in NDLEA that a lawyer is made to head finance department as in the case of Yohanna Silah Mshelia”.
In order to make good his selfish and unlawful ambition of perpetuating himself in office, Yohanna is still signing circulars when he ought to have proceeded on retirement leave. Abdallah is playing to his tune because he lacks the courage and moral integrity to do the needful. After all, those who go to equity must have clean hands.
An officer said that while they are agonising over protracted stagnation; Abdallah is daily denying them of salary increase, command and control appointment thus forcing them to be at the mercy of drug barons. One of the aggrieved officers said that “we all have 35 years of service, but we have been terribly short-changed and heartlessly retarded. Why must NDLEA directors and commanders be allowed to occupy their positions for life? We are so frustrated because the future is looking bleak. Salaries have remained static for over a decade with adverse effects on staff motivation. They want us to turn to drug barons for help but we will not sell our conscience”.
Lamenting over poor welfare and unbearable working conditions, the aggrieved officers claim that corruption under the current Chairman of the Agency, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah has reached an alarming proportion. They are also calling on the presidency to intervene before drugs and substance abuse ruin the youths of our great country.
The aggrieved officers noted that despite the poor working conditions, occasioned by stagnation on one rank for over a decade, lack of befitting offices, operational vehicles, inadequate logistics and requisite allowances as an agency that confronts drug barons; Abdallah is posting them without transfer allowances. In a transfer circular with reference number NDLEA/FIN/88/VOL.VII/227 dated 26th August 2019, Abdallah approved the transfer of one hundred and forty-six (146) officers in a nationwide shakeup without giving them the needed allowances to relocate in line with extant rules.
According to the officers, “the annoying aspect was the directive for us to report to our new stations within one week without paying us transfer allowance. It is absolutely ridiculous to ask a man to relocate his family wives and children from Lagos to Borno within one week when you have neglected your role of providing transfer allowance. Where do they want us to get money to move our property? The entire leadership is sick and callous. This is an irresponsible order from a callous leader that should be ignored”, the officer stated.
Worried by the insensitive directive to report within one week without transfer allowances; affected officers threatened to ignore the circular thus making a jest of the leadership. On a second thought, Abdallah issued another circular with reference number NDLEA/FIN/88/VOL.II/228 dated 2nd September, 2019 extending the reporting date to September 30, 2019, still without providing transfer allowance.
The officers are calling for a probe of the management by the presidency to set things right. “We call on the presidency to put an end to the oppressive leadership in the NDLEA. Enough is enough. Let there be immediate harmonisation and proper placement of officers to correct the seniority list in the Agency. In addition, we want living allowances and improved staff welfare. The directors should also be investigated and made to pay for their gross misrule and violation of the public service regulation. The drama of ineffective leadership in the NDLEA is only a reflection of how the directors got to their unmerited positions. The worst disservice to the nation is for Abdallah to be given a second term in office as Chairman and the current directors allowed a minute longer in office” aggrieved officer demand.
The Director General of Department of State Services in a letter titled Harmonisation of promotion for participants of officers basic course 14, advised the Chairman/Chief Executive of the implication of not placing officers properly. Paragraph three of the letter clearly states that “the consequences of this development need not be over-emphasized, as it may affect morale and indiscipline, and outright disobedience to lawful orders. Some of the affected officers may even become willing tools in the hands of drug criminals among other negative implications”.
Despite the strongly worded letter copied to the secretary to Government of the Federation and the National Security Adviser, the Abdallah led management of the NDLEA has remained adamant.
The agitations from officers are becoming disquieting particularly as they bother on national security. Drums of concerns from an organisation saddled with a sensitive responsibility of confronting drug criminals must not be ignored. This is the time for President Muhammadu Buhari to act. Enough is enough.