By Aisha Tamba
Ten people charged with the unlawful possession and selling of banned chemical pesticides were yesterday arraigned before Magistrate Mbeng Faal of the Kanifing court.
The possession and selling of the banned chemical pesticides are punishable under the Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides Control and Management Act of 2009.
The chemical dealers, Mamadou Jawo, Malick Drammeh, Sainey Faye, Bai Nyass, Babucarr Dumbuya, Ababacar Dieye, Omar Njie, Fatou Jallow, Rashin Sey, and Fatou Gaye, all pleaded guilty to the charges.
They were in possession of the banned chemicals Pichlovos pesticides, Dichlofort pesticides, Dasa pesticides, Rambo pesticides, Beni Gama pesticides, Commando Bed Bug Killer, Fall Phyto pesticides, Nopest pesticides, and so forth.
Police prosecutor Sub-Inspector Kebbeh narrated that on 14 February 2023, a team of inspectors from the National Environment Agency conducted a patrol to enforce the hazardous chemicals and pesticides control law.
He said they approached the accused persons in their various shops within Serekunda and found them in possession of the banned and unlabelled pesticides.
He said they took the confiscated pesticides to NEA offices in Kanifing and were told by experts that it was not advisable for the chemicals to be exposed in the midst of people and that was why they could not be tendered in the courtroom as evidences.
Presiding over the case, Magistrate Faal asked the prosecution to provide a list of banned chemical pesticides declared hazardous by the Pesticides Control and Management Board “because there’s nothing in the Act that says the said chemicals are banned”.
She read: “It is stated in the Act that where it proves to be dangerous to human or animal health and the environment even when used or handled in accordance with the instructions given on the label, the board shall prohibit the use of such a chemical or pesticide and declare it a banned chemical or pesticide.” She then asked the prosecution: “So where is that declaration from the board that the substances that were found in their possession are banned because that is the only thing that will qualify it as an offence.”
At that juncture, the prosecutions applied for a short adjournment to provide the said document. The matter continues.