Home Economy National Security Threat! …JNB Describes Drugs Addiction In Liberia

National Security Threat! …JNB Describes Drugs Addiction In Liberia

by News Manager

By: H. Richard Fallah

MONROVIA: Former Vice President, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, has described the situation of drugs which continues to undermine the fabrics of the Liberian Nation and its predominately youthful population as a threat to national security.

Mr. Boakai said the drugs situation in the country should be elevated to “National Emergency.”

Delivering a major address to the Nation on “International Drugs Day,” Monday, June 26, 2023, at his Rehab residence, Ambassador Boakai noted the increasing exposure of Liberians, particularly the youth, to drug abuse and addiction, if not immediately arrested, will have enormous health, social, economic, and security implications on the country.

”I view it as a threat to our national security, and must be elevated to a National Emergency,” Boakai asserted.

The Unity Party political leader opined that drug abuse and addiction are a scourge with dire consequences including a lost future for many young people.

He said abusers of drugs are prone to mental health illnesses and high suicidal tendencies, and may also die prematurely due to drug overdose.

Ambassador Boakai stressed that “dependency on drugs often leads to crimes, which put both the users and society in peril; these young people are stigmatized and face harsh societal isolation.”

“And at this rate,” he added, “the country’s potential demographic dividend stemming from a substantially young population faces an existential threat, with Liberia at a risk of losing its possible productive manpower base, especially given the high rate of school dropouts among young drug users.”

“JNB,” as he is affectionately called by his supporters, maintained, that Liberia is gradually losing its next generation to drug abuse and that if practical actions are not taken urgently, the prospect of future generations inheriting a more complex and challenging national situation looms large.

“The country stands to face a possible future of increased crime rate, unemployment, increased sexual and Gender-Based Violence, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and TB as just a few of the challenges,” he emphasized.

The UP standard bearer stressed that the country is fast gaining notoriety as a transshipment country for illicit narcotics, with the country shamefully appearing now as a “narcotic-state.”

JNB: “The country’s weak law enforcement capacity, porous borders, and proximity to major drug transit routes helped to contribute to trafficking to and through Liberia.”

The Unity Party standard bearer referenced the recent seizure of US$100 million worth of drugs, the unfavorable trial saga that ensued, and the mysterious and unexplained departure from the country of all those who were accused and later acquitted as an indication of the extent to which the country has been rapidly exposed in the last few years to the narcotic trade.

He said it also shows the vulnerability of Liberian society to the impact of such large-scale drugs assault by international criminal enterprises.

“Significantly, it reveals the failure of national leadership, a weak and criminal justice system, and crucially raises suspicion about the probable complicity of some higher-ups in this affair, JNB opined.
He indicated that that the statistics cannot be stark, as it is estimated that two (2) in ten (10) youths in Liberia are users of narcotic substances while some estimates have it that about 13% of the Liberian population is affected by drug addiction.

Boakai: “The correlation between substance abuse and crimes is equally worrying, with the police reporting an increase in drug-related crimes, nationwide, everyone living in urban areas knows the location of at least one ghetto, with the increasing presence in most communities of shoes strung over power lines, signifying that a ghetto is nearby.”

He revealed that to support the overwhelming desire for narcotics, these young people who live in so-called ghettos who spread across the country, in cemeteries, on the streets, and in other unsavory places often resort to crimes, including arm robberies.

“These crimes and their effects on victims and those who commit them are heartbreaking because we know they are motivated by the drive for drugs,” he stressed.

There are reports that over 866 ghettos are situated in Monrovia serving as homes to chronic drug users.

These ghettos are associated with illicit activities including launching pads for drug-related crimes,” the UP standard bearer disclosed.

According to JNB, the CDC led government, headed by ex-soccer star, George Weah, is incapable, unwilling, complicit, and indifferent to the drugs crisis which is impeding the hope of the country.

JNB: “They don’t see it as most Liberians see it – A NATIONAL EMERGENCY. This is why a change in national leadership is, and should be now. We must see our votes as an opportunity to want to reverse this dangerous trend by saving our children and securing their future.”

He noted that the scale of the drug problem shows the Weah government’s nonchalant attitude towards one of the most critical issues confronting Liberians today, as they have no plans to address it.

The presidential hopeful has however promised that his government, if elected comes October 10, will address this grave situation of drugs by providing responsible leadership that would institute appropriate measures to bring hope to the young victims of this epidemic, relief to hurting families.

He said, by doing so, It will include declaring drugs abuse not just an emergency but a national security crisis situation that must be arrested through a system-wide approach.

“This means looking at this crisis and determining the extent to which the failure of the provision of public goods, social service delivery, weaknesses in the criminal justice system, and inadequacies of the public health system have all conspired to contribute to what may yet be the biggest threat to the society after the civil war,” Boakai noted.

Boakai who is hoping to be Liberia`s next president asserted that his approach to the deadly substance (drugs) will firstly be to immediately undertake the establishment of rehabilitation and reintegration programs with the best professionals aimed at providing some of the best clinical care for those who have become addicted and dependent on these chemical substances.

These programs, JNB noted, will also be coordinated with non-profit organizations and other individuals currently engaged in small-scale interventions such as non-clinical and limited drug treatment services for substance users in Liberia.
Still with “JNB” approach in mitigating drugs in the country, he explained that his government will develop an all-encompassing public health program with focus on information, education, and research in combating drug and substance abuse.

According to him, this program will target schools and communities to prevent and protect young people from falling prey to drug use.

“In this way, the system is able to equip those mainly targeted by drug dealers to develop resiliency and resist this menace from having a stranglehold on the youth,” he indicated.

Boakai, the lead opposition politician noted that the Boakai`s government will strengthen law enforcement to deal with the source of the drug problem in the country, mentioning that for several years, the criminalization of the epidemic (drugs), has targeted drug use and addicts, allowing drug dealers and their criminal networks to operate under the radar of the law.

Boakai believes that the most egregious of the drug offenders are those who make the drugs ship them to the country`s shores, and others who sell them locally to young children and criminals who operate along the supply chain of the trade.

JNB: “The aim of our law enforcement strategy will be to disrupt the supply of drugs to the country: In this regard, we promise to enact very strong laws that will severely punish traffickers and their middlemen who operate in the open market by offering maximum prison sentences.”
He promised to go after criminals and “smoke” them from their hideouts, but said, in such fight, robust legislation, training, and adequate resourcing will be aimed at supporting the National Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) to work with the Liberia National Police, and the National Immigration Services, and border patrol to curtail the prevalence of the drug problem in the country.

Ambassador Boakai said, drug use and related crimes have affected nearly every family and threatens to undermine the very values of the Liberian society.

“We must not allow this to happen,” he cautioned.
Boakai: “I promise to declare war on drug trafficking and use when elected, which is why the decision you make on October 10 would be one of the most consequential in your lifetime; I implore you to remain vigilant and know that help is on the way to salvage our young people and society from “kush” and the throes of this epidemic.”

He said over the past few weeks, he consulted and extended appreciation to many Liberians and Partners who continue to work tirelessly to support efforts aimed at mitigating the drug abuse tragedy by working with unsuspecting victims who have become chemically dependent on these substances.

“I would personally like to thank Reverend Caleb Domah of the Metro Harvest Church and Youth-Connect Liberia, the online influencer Ms. Josephine Kolubah of “Coffee with JoJo” fame, and many others,” he stated.

The former vice President statement comes weeks after Liberian prosecutors have lost a court battle in a US$100m drug burst case against defendants Malam Conte, Adulai Djibri Djalo, Makki Admeh Issam, and Oliver A. Zayzay.
A jury panel at the Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia Thursday, 18 May 2023 handed down the unanimous verdict, acquitting the four accused men, a blow to Liberia’s fight against illicit drugs trafficking.

The acquittal came after 11 of the 12 jurors found the men not guilty of all charges, including money laundering, unlicensed possession of controlled drugs, unlicensed importation of controlled drugs, and criminal conspiracy.
According to the jury, Makki Ahmed Issam, Adulai Djalo, Oliver Zayzay, and Malam Conte had no knowledge of the cocaine smuggling operation, as claimed by the government.
The 520-kilogram haul of the illicit substance had been seized by authorities in 2022 among containers that TRH Trading had imported from Brazil.
Those who were acquitted by the court in May this year (2023), have since left the country, with no proper account of their location.

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