Ousman Saidybah, the spokesperson of the country's narcotic agency, who was contacted for comments, confirmed the development to The Point, saying the officers are currently indefinitely suspended pending the decision of the agency’s board.
“As part of the continued reform initiatives aimed at maintaining professional standards and in compliance with policy instruments as provided for in the agency’s Staff Service Rules and Staff Code of Conduct, the agency conducted drug of abuse tests for all staff of the agency."
He added: “Section II (11:12) of the Staff Service Rule talks about the conduct and discipline of staff. It prohibits staff from consuming any form of intoxicant or illicit drug while on duty, abusing any form of illicit drug while in the employment of the agency and equally directs the agency to conduct periodic tests on all staff to determine their drug use status."
Similarly, he went on, Part III (6) of the staff code of conduct deems staff intoxicated or under the influence of any form of illicit drug unfit for duty and service.
“Premise on this and with blessing from the Board of Governors, management contracted an independent laboratory firm to conduct the drugs of abuse test for all staff from the agency. No single staff was exempted."
“The top most senior being the director general to be least most junior staff were all subjected to this test. It is important to note that neither the test was conducted in such a way that the person analysing the urine samples cannot know whose sample was being analysed."
“Samples were collected and labeled with EE numbers of staff rather using their names. Therefore, after the exercise, 22 staff tested positive for the use of cannabis. This result was presented to the board and they decided to suspend them for two months without salary with a condition to subject them to retest at their own cost."
After the two months period, Saidybah explained, they were subjected to another drug of abuse test.
“Twenty one (21) of those on suspension availed themselves for a retest while one (1) person abstained by failing to make himself available."
“After the second retest, five (5) persons were found to be positive. Four (4) for cannabis and one (1) for opium. These five persons in addition to the one who abstained presently on indefinite suspension pending decision of their fate by the Board of Governors"
“Management of the agency wants to assure the public of its stance of zero tolerance to any form of misconduct and unprofessionalism by its staff. The test will be a continuous process and it is here to stay. As the entity mandated by law to fight against drugs, we cannot in any way allow our own staff to be found wanting."
“Any staff found wanting will be dealt with accordingly"
“Furthermore, we want to make it clear that the DLEAG commissioner for the North Bank Region is not among those found wanting in this exercise. He is a fine gentleman who has dedicated his service to the Agency and country from his time at The Gambia Police Force to DLEAG," Saidybah clarified.