By Nelson Manneh
The Director General of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency- The Gambia (DLEAG) has said that misinformation about illicit drugs has drastically increased in the social media space.
“Misinformation about illicit drugs has drastically increased in the social media space and this can be harmful, especially to drug users. With so many new and life-threatening drugs becoming available in the streets, there is an increased interest in the realities of drug use. Education about illicit drug use is necessary to know and appreciate the true consequences of abuse,” he said during the destruction of illicit drugs on Wednesday in Bakau.
DG Gassama said his administration maintains a consistent and firm resolve against unethical conduct, particularly corruption. Recently, he said social media has become one of the main platforms that people get information from.
“The convenience of information via social media is obvious, as it is easy to access, engaging and can be easily shared with family and friends,” he said.
Unfortunately, DG Gassama said drugs and related matters are the common subjects of inaccurate news on social media.
DG continued: “We have all witnessed the speed at which these fake news stories can circulate on social media. Increasingly misinformation about illicit drugs is becoming common. However, the consequences of such false information can be dangerous and even deadly.”
“Our public sensitization activities targeted Sectors of society particularly the young people. During our interaction with youth, it is observed that most young people indulging in drug abuse or trafficking are either school dropouts or unemployed,” he added.
Director Gassama said the youth need accurate information to protect them from drug abuse and its devastating consequences, adding one way to do this is by continued education and sensitisation.
“Young people need support at home and school and even in the Community since the kind of youth we shape today determines the kind of future we will build for our country and the world at large,” he said.
He said it is a collective moral duty to see to it that young people are well informed to distance themselves from drugs.
“The public engagement through mass sensitisation is one of the most significant achievements of the Agency over the years. The alarming rate at which false news and fabricated stories targeting anti- narcotic institutions and officials is concerning. In the Gambia, unscrupulous individuals and groups are in the habit of fabricating and falsifying allegations against organisations and individuals on drug matters. Hard working and sincere officers become the subject of smear campaigns and unsubstantiated allegations,” he explained.
DG Gassama said they are fighting very powerful and wealthy drug lords who are hell-bent on eliminating anybody who stands in their way.
“They can finance individuals and groups to launch such campaigns just to distract us or cost genuine officers their job and secure the license to carry out their social destruction trade. We are alert! And no amount of blackmail will sway us from the good cause,” he said.