By Nelson Manneh
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency- The Gambia (NDLEAG) has on Wednesday, 15 December, 2021 destroyed seized drugs valuing over one hundred million dalasi (D109, 529, 070) and campaign against drug abuse and trafficking.
Officials say the activity showed the commitment of the Gambia Government in pushing the agenda of saving the country and the world from the havoc of drugs.
Each year, a theme is chosen to guide the campaign against drug abuse and trafficking. The theme for 2021 World Drug Day is “Share Facts on Drugs, Save Lives”.
Bakary Gassama, the Director-General of DLEAG, said seizure of huge quantity of drugs is as a result of extreme hard work and commitment of his staff.
“I would like to commend those outstanding officers who are doing exceptionally well in the field,” he said.
The seized drugs that were destroyed included: 4 tons, 607kg, 700g of Cannabis, 238kg, 264g of Cannabis Resin (Hashish), 17g of Heroine, and 52kg, 143g, 400mg of Cocaine.
DG Gassama said public drug destruction is a practice that demonstrates accountable governance in law enforcement in the management of drug exhibits.
“We have put in place a very robust and credible exhibit-keeping regime that does not compromise the integrity of our exhibits,” he said.
Director Gassama said corruption and dishonesty have over the years resulted in the dismissal of a number of staff.
“This approach will be strengthened by reinforcing our anti-corruption mechanism. Our rebranding efforts are on course. Therefore, we cannot allow corruption to frustrate this noble effort,” he said.
Yankuba J.N Sonko, the Minister of Interior, said drug destruction provides the opportunity of spreading the message about the adverse cultural and economic harm the trade in drugs is still doing across the globe- one hundred years after the war on drugs was initially launched in Shanghai.
“It is also an occasion to demonstrate greater accountability and transparency in the fight against drugs in the Gambia. With a strong governance regime and enhanced rule of law, the Gambia is committed to consolidating the gains in the fight against drug trafficking,” he stated.
The interior minister said the campaign for the fight against illicit drugs invites everyone to do their part, including taking a firm stance against misinformation and unreliable sources, while committing to sharing only the real science-backed data on drugs and safe lives.
“The government through DLEAG has attached premium consideration to awareness creation activities on drugs. In this pursuit, the Drug Demand Reduction Unit of DLEAG was upgraded to a Directorate to create a balance between enforcement and non-enforcement activities. We are aware that many factors make young people vulnerable to drugs. Key among them is misinformation,” he said.
He said they have observed young people, particularly girls who are increasingly engaged in the abuse of controlled drugs.
“Most of them are influenced by lifestyles they see on the internet. The best way to reverse this trend is to counter the impression given to these young people and guide them through career guidance and counseling schemes,” he said.
He said based on evidence, The Gambia is highly stable in terms of drug trafficking.
“There are continued and sustained efforts in countering the world drug problem by implementing a strong and credible drug interdiction regime. The government, therefore, assures all Gambians and partners that this country is far from being a Narco-State as there is clear evidence that legitimate state institutions are NOT penetrated or influenced by the wealth and power of drug traffickers,” he said.
He added that a strong law enforcement community is nurtured as well as an independent and impartial judiciary.
“The January seizure of close to 3 tons of cocaine at the seaport amplifies the message to organized criminal groups that the Gambia is and will remain a hostile ground for drug trafficking. We need to mobilize as a nation to support the law enforcement in carrying out their work,” he said.
Minister Sonko said the international law enforcement community gives high regard to the drug interdiction regime of the Gambia and has never raised concerns about her ability as a country to contribute to global efforts in addressing the world drug problem.