House of Representatives Committee on Drugs and Narcotics yesterday rejected request by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, to purchase property worth N2.1billion to house its headquarters in Abuja.

Instead, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Francis Agbo, advised the Chairman of the Agency, Alhaji Mohammed Mustapha, to apply to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for one of the properties it recovered from fraudsters to be allocated to the Agency to serve as its headquarters.

The chairman, who spoke during the Agency’s 2021 budget defense, said there was no need for the NDLEA to spend such huge amount to purchase a property while there are many of such properties seized by the EFCC which they are currently planning to sell.

“We cannot approve this money for you to purchase property; instead the money should be channeled to other critical areas, especially to purchase arms to protect your men.

“I advise that you discuss with the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, AbubakarMalami who supervises your Agency to see how you can secure one of those properties seized by the EFCC, I will also discuss same with him,” he stated.

Earlier, the NDLEA chairman had told the committee that the challenges faced by the Agency include poor funding for administration and that the operations need to purchase and rehabilitate a new headquarters office in Abuja as well as poor and decaying infrastructure across the country.

He said the agency was also faced with the problem of lack of standard barracks and office accommodation across the country, inadequate and obsolete operational vehicles, inadequate and unserviceable arms and in some cases expired ammunitions.

Speaking further, the NDLEA boss said the Agency is in dire need of operational/surveillance equipment such as scanning machines, computers, bullet proof vests, x-ray machines, leg chains, hand cuffs, CCTV cameras and fully equipped surveillance vehicles.

Speaking further, Mustapha requested for increase in staff strength of the Agency, operational infrastructure for enhanced performance and reduced risk as well as pragmatic review of the agency’s funding.

On the Agency’s proposal for the 2021 fiscal year, he said the Agency has proposed the sum of N12, 688,496,733 made up of N9, 195358166 for recurrent personnel cost and N398, 973,304 for recurrent overhead, while N3, 094,167263 is for capital expenditure.