By Own Correspondent – The Executive Director of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA), Benedict Jammeh, has highlighted the dangerous threat posed by drugs in society, describing them as weapons of mass destruction.
“Drug abuse is a global phenomenon, and the only way to combat the fight against the illicit trade is through collective and concerted efforts,” Jammeh said. He was speaking Friday evening at the Sheraton Hotel during the annual seminar and fund-raising dinner of the late Francis Degaulle Njie Foundation, where he served as a panelist on the theme: “Drug abuse among Gambian youths: How do we avert a potential national crisis.”
According to the head of the NDEA, drugs are silent killers and weapons of mass destruction as they destroy the fabric of any meaningful society. He noted that the threat posed by drugs in the sub-region cannot be overemphasized. “We arrested 300 youths with cannabis in the past months, and the saddest thing about it is that they are all able-bodied young men who can make changes in their lives. Cannabis sativa is locally grown and consumed in every part of this country,” he stated, adding that drug abuse has also both mental and physiological consequences, as it can lead to madness.
To avert the potential crisis, Ben opined that they advise the government on policies to avert the current trend and the situation the country is facing with regard to drug-related problems.
“We as an agency advise the government on how to prevent and enforce and avert drug-related problems, and also educate the masses. We need all partners on board in order to intensify the crusade and fight against illicit drugs in the country,” he said, revealing that the number of mad people is on the increase due to the abuse of drugs, which to him retards development in all forms.
Also addressing the gathering was Mrs. Vivat Thomas Njie, the Chairperson of Francis Degaulle Njie Foundation, who gave a brief account of the foundation, its achievements and challenges, among others. She said the foundation was established some four years ago, with the objective of providing financial support to gifted science students in The Gambia, and to provide support to schools in science and technology.
“Our aims and objectives include, but not limited to, providing advice and support for entrance into the University of The Gambia and abroad, to increase awareness in The Gambia for individuals diagnosed with brain tumors and other cancers, as well as the need for their families to work closely with international research institutions to sponsor relevant structures in The Gambia to ensure accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, among others,” she said.
Dilating on some of the foundation’s achievements, Mrs. Njie said the foundation donated a cancer machine to the RVTH and refurbished a ward at the hospital.
Also speaking as a panellist, on behalf of the Chief Justice of The Gambia, was Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, who underscored the important role the judiciary plays in the fight against drug abuse and trafficking. He stated that the President has already declared an all out war on drugs and corruption, and that the courts will complement this by prosecuting drug offenders to the letter.
Justice Fagbenle said the judiciary has also established a special narcotics court to hear all drug-related offences. “Drug abuse and trafficking is a general concern for all and sundry. It causes mental disorder,” he noted.
Other speakers at the forum included Mrs. Anna Marie Mendy, matron at Tanka Tanka mental hospital, Mrs. Fanta Bai Secka, Director of Social Welfare, Dr. Alieu Gaye, medical practitioner, and one Basiru Mbenga.The master of ceremony was Mr. Geoffrey Renner, adviser to the foundation, while Mr. Nana Grey Johnson, a consultant journalist, moderated the programme.