By Tabora Bojang
Interior Minister Yankuba Sonko has assured Gambians and partners that the country is far from being a narco state, blaming misinformation, mainly on social media, for clouding the sincere efforts by the country to fight drugs.
Speaking at a ceremony at Cape Point where over four tons of cannabis, cocaine, heroin and hashish were destroyed yesterday, Minister Sonko explained that there is a lot of “misinformation and stereotyping” perpetrated by individuals and groups regarding The Gambia’s vulnerability to drug trafficking and abuse.
He said the government is aware of the dangers of misinformation as it continues to make more young people vulnerable to drugs. “There is a growing trend in sharing misleading information intended to misinform our youths on drug matters and this has cost the lives of many people who fall victim to drugs. We have also observed that young people, particularly girls, are increasingly engaged in abuse of controlled drugs and most of them are influenced by lifestyles they saw on the internet and other mediums,” the minister said.
He said the fight against drug abuse and trafficking is a shared and common responsibility based on available and verifiable evidence and that the country is highly stable in terms of drug trafficking. “There are continuous and sustained efforts in countering the world’s drug problem by implementing a strong and credible drug interdiction regime,” Sonko said.
The minister said the very act of public destruction of drugs seized from suspects whose cases have been fully processed by law, demonstrates greater accountability and transparency in the fight against drugs in The Gambia, assuring that with strong a governance regime and enhanced rule of law, the country is committed to consolidating gains in the fight against drug trafficking.
The director general of the drug law enforcement agency Bakary Gassama said the exercise is in line with the theme of this year’s international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking which is “Sharing facts on drugs save lives.”
Gassama said misinformation about illicit drugs have drastically increased in the social media space warning the consequences of such false information can be dangerous and even deadly especially for drug users.
The drugs destroyed included four tons, 607 kilograms and 700 grams of cannabis, 238 kilograms and 264 grams of hashish, 17 grams of heroin and 52 kilograms, 143 grams, 400 mg of cocaine with a street value of D109 million.