Nigeria’s narcotics agency, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has vowed to arrest and prosecute the controversial artiste, Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, if he is caught with drugs regardless of their partnership.
The Director, Media and Advocacy for the NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, disclosed this in a chat with Saturday PUNCH Beats.
Babafemi explained that the agency purposely enlisted Naira Marley for its drug abuse advocacy because of young followers popularly known as ‘Marlians’ that look up to him as a role model.
It had been reported on Thursday that Nigerians on X, previously known as Twitter berated the engagement of controversial singer and songwriter, Azeez Adeshina Fashola, as an ambassador to NDLEA to campaign against drug abuse in the country.
It reported that criticism followed a statement issued by Babafemi on Thursday, announcing the agency’s partnership with Naira Marley to campaign against the usage and possession of illegal substances and hard drugs.
But justifying the agency’s choice to use Naira Marley as its ambassador on its campaign against drug abuse in the country, Babafemi said it doesn’t stop the agency from arresting and prosecuting him if caught with drugs.
He said, “It is an advocacy engagement with him. It’s 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.”
He added, “Last year, we arrested some of his artists (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.”
The musician is one of Nigeria’s musicians known for glamorising weed.
Naira Marley who visited the NDLEA office with other members of his team such as Sam Larry, Dami Marshal and Chuddy Naira on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, tweeted that he smoked loud but didn’t do drugs.
“I smoke loud I don’t do drugs,” he wrote.
In another tweet, Marley said, “I really like smoking loud. I can quit whenever, I just don’t see a reason. It’s not harmful to me. It makes me stay happy and se jeje.”
Loud is a hybrid strain of marijuana. The name is used to describe this type of weed’s intense odour and strong taste.
He also released a song dedicated to marijuana titled ‘Marry Juana’.
In the song, Naira Marley expressed his love for marijuana, saying, “I just wanna marry Juana, please let me marry Juana, cannabis in the rizla, so high I can’t get higher.”
He was once arrested and faced charges bordering on alleged credit card fraud contrary to Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and the Cyber Crimes Act.
The singer was accused of committing the offences between November 26 and December 11, 2018, and on May 10, 2018. He was arraigned on May 20, 2019, but granted bail.