Oct 14, 2008, 5:00 AM
Bakary Gassama, Director General of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of The Gambia (DLEAG), has said the number of drug users in the country has become great over the years, with the majority of users being youths.
Mr Gassama made this statement on Monday at the public destruction of seized drugs, a total of 1 tonne, 161 kilograms of Cannabis Sativa, at the Old Cape Road in Bakau.
“In The Gambia, the number of drug users is so great, mostly the youths, that as a result it has created negative impacts on them such as behaviour change, health problems, crime and other violence,” Mr Gassama said in a statement read prior to the burning and destruction exercise.
“Many youths/students consume drugs for fun or out of other reasons,” he added.
“At the beginning, many consume it as a free try; after a period of time, they become drug addicts and continue to buy and consume it.”
Mr Gassama advised the youths to desist from drug use and others “not to try it, consume it or even involve in the dealing of [it]”.
This is because drug abuse has “a very serious negative impact” in the lives of youths.
He said further: “Today we are faced with serious problems, and the problems of drugs cannot be left behind since its abuse fuels most violence we face in our society.
“With illicit drugs, come many different problems. It causes bad decision making, committing crimes and getting people addicted to bad habits.
“Hundreds of youths have wasted their lives because of illicit drugs in our society. They are mostly victims of broken home families, ignorance, bad influence, etc. These young people usually take illicit drugs to have fun or escape the pressures of life.”
Drug addiction, the DLEAG official noted, is a very complex brain disease, and has also contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDs through the use of unsterilized injections.
“This is an extremely serious issue for us,” he said, adding that it is time for the nation to say ‘NO’ to illicit drugs.
“It is time for us to arrange our future; it is time for us to face the challenge with our ability to prove to the whole world that we can win the war on drugs as pronounced by our great president His Excellence Sheikh Pro. Dr Alhaji Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh Babili Mansa,” Mr Gassama said.
He thanked and commended the management and staff of the agency for the “magnificent work” they have been doing, especially over the past year, in dealing with the world’s deadliest enemy, drugs.
“You will all agree with me that combating drugs is one of the toughest jobs one can embark upon in our modern times.
“Not only are the number of drug users and traffickers increasing on a regular basis, but their methods of concealment and trafficking are also getting more refined each day.
“This has put drug law enforcers on lookout at all times, and our great DLEAG is no exemption.”
The DLEAG official said the discovery and confiscation of “these huge quantities of illicit drugs displays the determined efforts of the Agency” in fulfilling its mandate, as enshrined in the Drug Control Act (2003) and its subsequent amendments as “championed by our dear leader the President in his ambition to make this country the best place to live in the sub-region”.
Mr Gassama commended President Jammeh, for his foresight and continued guidance and support to the Agency over the years in ensuring it discharges its duties for the good of the nation and humanity, “which has made the Agency the envy of many in the sub-region”.
He reiterated his commendation of staff of the agency, saying: “On behalf of the Board of Governors, and the Management of DLEAG, I would like to congratulate the gallant staff of the Agency for your promotions and urge you to redouble your efforts in making this country a drug-free state.
“We as the Board of Governors have confidence in you, and we expect that you will not let us down. It is clear that promotion has to be based on merit, loyalty to the government and the people of The Gambia. We as the Board of Governors are equally confident that you met all the criteria; that is why you deserve your promotions.
“I am happy to say that drug trafficking in The Gambia today is effectively coming down. The reasons are not farfetched since society is happy about your continuous fight in making this country a drug-free state.”
In his remarks, the public relations officer of DLEAG, Modou Jobe, also called on drug users and dealers to abandon the act, saying drug abuse especially among the youths has become a serious cause for concern for governments and communities around the world
Mr Jobe, who is also the officer commanding the prosecution office of DLEAG, applauded the exemplary leadership of President Jammeh and his invaluable support to the Agency in ensuring it carries out its mandate for the good of the society.
The exercise was attended by the Inspector General of Police, Yankuba Sonko, National Assembly members, senior security officers and members of DLEAG board and staff.