By Mariam Sankanu
The public relations officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has revealed that a staggering 402 cases of drug offenses have been registered in 2018 alone.
In an exclusive interview with The Standard at his office on Friday, Ousman Saidyba said out of the 402 cases so far registered this year, at least 355 have been related to cannabis, indicating a significant surge in drug abuse especially cannabis.
PRO Saidyba expressed disappointment with people not doing much to stop drug abuse unless DLEAG agents step in which, he said makes their job even more difficult.
The alarming rate at which drug abuse has gone up, he said is worrisome but will be practically impossible to rid the country of illicit drugs if they don’t get enough support from the people.
Saidyba also chided the growing misconception about democracy, saying it is the biggest obstacle in their work.
“We have a lot of problems when it comes to people understanding our new found democracy. Many people don’t want to give regard to the Rule of Law. Many people cannot differentiate between the former president and the law, believing that he was the law and if he is gone, there is no more law…….Not knowing that there was a law passed by the parliament called the Drug Control Act and it is part of the laws of The Gambia,” he said.
The most disheartening part of it all, according to him, is people blaming them for doing their job instead of giving them credit for it. He added: “It is very sad when the community where dealers are selling drugs to their own kids, robbing them off their futures, everybody is sitting and looking. You come and make an arrest, the same community comes out to fight you.”
With the drug abuse rate on constant increase, people’s security is questionable. Are children safe from peer influence? Is the society safe from being victims of drug abusers? Answering to that, Mr SaidyBah said that with adequate information, they can ensure people’s safety, however, they need maximum support to tackle most challenges they are faced with.
“People should give priority to issues relating to drug. There are so many campaigns but how many people are talking about drug abuse? Why? There is not much fund. What is our budget? Our budget is very small. We want development partners to also know that issues relating to the abuse of drug among youths, among children, should be given necessary attention,” he urged.
Making reference to the 2014 theme of the international day against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking ‘A healthy nation without illicit drugs and trafficking starts with me’, Saidybah said if everyone in the society thinks this way, we might be able to enjoy a society free from the menace of drug abuse.
The DLEAG spokesperson called for attitudinal and behavioral change, while urging communities and heads of family to inculcate positive attitudes into the minds of the young.