Home Governance Drugs Scandal Rocks Nimba… Karnplay Magisterial Court, Illegal Cross-Border Traders, Others Under Spotlight

Drugs Scandal Rocks Nimba… Karnplay Magisterial Court, Illegal Cross-Border Traders, Others Under Spotlight

by newsmanager

KARNPLAY, NIMBA COUNTY: The Karnplay City Magisterial Court and others have come under intense spotlight as regards the arrest and subsequent release, under questionable circumstance of several cartons of drugs which were allegedly transferred across Liberia’s territorial borders by illegal drugs traders.

The number of cartons seized by local authorities varies, this paper has gathered.

A warrant issued by the Karnplay Magisterial Court states that 19 cartons of drugs were confiscated but court records indicate 38 cartons.

However, several community residents interviewed stated the number of cartons of drugs arrested was 56. The reason behind these discrepancies has not been established.

The medicines, according to court documents, worth more than USD $700,000. However, other sources disputed the estimated value of the drugs, indicating that the estimated cost seems high.

According sources, on September 3, 2023, a Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) officer in Karnplay City arrested the drugs and filed a formal complaint with the court.

Sources said, of the 56 cartons allegedly seized by the LDEA, 20 of them were searched in front of court officials that contained life-saving medicines donated to the government of Liberia, including malaria drugs, TB and leprosy drugs, among others.

The remaining 36 cartons, according to sources, were said to have contained other pharmaceutical drugs that reportedly belonged to other pharmacies.

This paper also gathered that some residents of Yeaplay Town in the Karnplay City neighborhood provided information to the LDEA, which led to the arrest of the huge quantity of drugs by LDEA.

According to sources, after months of investigation, the court did not hold any of the three individuals it ordered arrested to account.

Instead, sources said, the court released the drugs to the three individuals without the consent of/ or any consultation with the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency or other relevant authorities.

Karnplay City Solicitor, Joseph Duo, confirmed to our correspondent that the court released the cartons of drugs.

He asserted that the importers of the drugs provided a document that allowed the Court to release them. He said the cartons of drugs were 19, not 56.

The Magistrate who is the Head of the Court, refused to comment on the issue. When pressed further on the situation, the City Solicitor declined to give any further information.

He rather told this paper to “visit the court next week” on grounds that since last year when the drugs were arrested, the Court has not printed the arrest warrant and other documents concerning the case.

“The document on the arrest is still in the computer. We have not printed them since last year,” he said.

Interestingly however, a well-placed source provided our correspondent the arrest warrant issued by the court on the drugs issue.

The warrant shows that after the LDEA filed a formal complaint with the Magisterial Court, all consignments of drugs were moved to the court premises and the court issued an arrest warrant for Kpahn Seika, Anderson Karnah, and Asata Kieta, all of Nimba County.

The three defendants were charged with illegal possession of unlicensed drugs and criminal facilitation, according to the writ of an arrest warrant issued on 2nd, October, 2023.

The arrest warrant reads: “… you the above-named defendants’ houses were searched based on a search warrant issued by the Karnplay Magisterial Court and as a result nineteen (19) cartons of purported pharmaceutical drugs sealed up in plastic paper valued at $700,000 USD were found and seized from defendant Koahn Siaka’s house in Yesplay Town, Nimba County.”

The warrant further states that while investigating the circumstances surrounding the drugs, defendant Asata Kieta appeared before the security and claimed ownership of the drugs and thereafter escaped from the police under the pretext that she was going to the latrine.

Further, defendants Kpahn Seika, in whose house sixteen (16) cartons of the drugs were found, and Anderson Karnah, in whose house three (3) cartons were found in Yeaplay Town, refused to cooperate with the security in the investigation.
“There and then you, the defendants, had committed the crimes herein about in violation of section 114.107 of the Drugs Control Law of Liberia,” the court’s warrant added.

The court’s declaration that 19, 16, and 3 cartons of pharmaceutical drugs were found with the three suspects conflicts with the Karnplay City Solicitor Joseph Duo’s earlier comments that the total consignment amounts to 19 cartons.

Following the news about the release of the drugs, our correspondent contacted the Stipendiary Magisterial Cooper Q. Gueh of the Karnplay Magisterial Court, but he refused to provide any document or explanation as to why the court released the drugs.

The clerk of the Karnplay Magisterial Court, George Gaye, when asked to view documents related to this case, outrightly rejected the request, saying he had nothing to give out.

City Solicitor Joseph Duo later told our reporter few days later that the drugs were released to the three suspects and have been moved to the Ivory Coast.

Our correspondent reached out to the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) to verify City Solicitor Duo’s claim that the defendants — Kpahn Seika, Anderson Karnah, and Asata Kieta — are licensed to import drugs but found out that this is untrue.

Our correspondent checked with the LMHRA and found that the three accused persons do not own any pharmacies in Liberia.

However, sources said, they are just involved with the purchase of donated medicines which they transport across Liberia’s borders to neighboring countries including Guinea and Ivory Coast for sale.

The release of the huge consignment of the drugs has been condemned by key institutions and organizations in Nimba, including the joint security in Karnplay City, who all formed part of the arrest, with all of them suggesting a lack of consultation by the court.

Pharmacist Jackson Mensah of the Nimba County Health Team complained that his office and that of the County Health Team do not know how the drugs were released.

“There have been others that have been arrested and were invited to the court. We followed the issue to the end, but the September 3, 2023, arrest and the court’s decision, we have no idea.”
“Drugs importers have no knowledge of drugs but they just want to make money. Such people need to be arrested,” he said.

Dr. F. Kwo-A-Kpeh Dolo of the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) also expressed disappointment and frustration with the decision of the court to release the drugs.

According to him, the LMHRA delegation visited the court several times but was not allowed to open those cartons.

The Nimba County Commander of the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency, Thomas T. Saye, told our reporter that he along with others had applied efforts to get those medicines from the court, but the court refused and later released them to the cross-border traders.

During a visit by a reporter in Yeaplay Town around Karnplay City, the citizens expressed disappointment and frustration that the various health facilities in the area lack drugs for curable diseases, but they regularly see pharmaceutical drugs enter their town by business people who transport the medicines to Ivory Coast and Guinea.

“Brother, it was good you came but don’t call my name ooo. towns and villages around the border lines here have been used to transport drugs to Ivory Coast,” the resident said.

Another resident who begged not to be namned disclosed that they were the ones who informed the LDEA about the “56 cartons” of pharmaceutical drugs that were brought into the town.

They insisted that drugs were placed in 56 cartons and not 19 as stated by the Karnplay City Solicitor.
International donors, including the U.S. Government, donate enough HIV, TB, and malaria medication to Liberia to help every citizen who needs treatment, along with many other essential medical products. However, drug stock-outs due to theft through corruption and weak supply chain management prevent these critical, potentially lifesaving resources from reaching Liberians who need them. Contributed by By Franklin Doloquee/Nimba County

Pictorial:
Court Warrant:

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