The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says despite picking Singer, Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley in its drug abuse advocacy, the agency will arrest the artiste if he is caught with illicit drugs.
This follows the barrage of criticism that trailed the NDLEA’s decision to signpost the singer for its campaign against drug abuse.
Naira Marley on Thursday, August 17, paid a surprise visit to the anti-narcotic body’s headquarters in Abuja, where he also met the agency’s
Executive Chairman, Brigadier General Buba Marwa (retd).
The singer, after the visit, appeared in a video in which he advised youths and teenagers to desist from abusing drugs.
The clip did not sit well with many Nigerians who saw Naira Marley’s history of glorification and encouragement of drug abuse as problematic for such an important campaign.
But, in a reaction to the development, NDLEA’s Spokesman, Femi Babafemi revealed that the agency deliberately chose the singer for its drug abuse advocacy.
In an interview with newsmen on Saturday, Babafemi said, “It is an advocacy engagement with him. It is what we do as part of the responsibilities of the agency to promote advocacy messages that would discourage people from substance abuse. It is about the message.
“Don’t forget that he has a lot of young followers— Marlians— that look up to him. The idea is for the leader of the movement (Marlians) to come out and ask people to stop substance abuse, and live a new life.”
The NDLEA image maker added that using the controversial artiste as an advocate won’t prevent the agency from arresting him if he was caught with illegal substances.
“Last year, we arrested some of his artistes (Zinoleesky and Mohbad). That is to show that we are not closing our eyes. If the same Naira Marley is caught with illicit substances tomorrow, he will face sanctions,” he said.
He urged those criticising the move by the NDLEA to focus on the message and not the messenger.
Meanwhile, an aide to the immediate past governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa has vowed to institute legal charges against the NDLEA if Naira Marley is seen smoking again.
The aide, Ossai Ovie Success in a post on his Facebook page, wondered if Marley had let go of his “smoking” habit before being considered to make the declaration.
He said, “I will sue NDLEA if I see Nairamarley sm*king on his music video or on the ground and if any of artistes signed to his record label are seen smoking.
“I hope @officialnairam1 has stopped smoking before being paid by NDLEA to campaign against smoking and drugs.
“I am watching him carefully because I am happy with this campaign.”
Similarly, Kanyi Daily reported that Nollywood actress, Tonto Dike also slammed the NDLEA for picking the controversial singer as its drug abuse advocate.