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-Consumers, Dealers, County Officials Admit
Nimba County is among several areas in Liberia that is highly hit by the increasing rise in the sale and consumption of illicit drugs with specific fingers pointed at Nigerian nationals who are said to be dealers of the illegal substances.

Due to incomplete records of drugs on the African continent particularly Liberia, owning to the fact that authorities are not wanting to take responsibility or attach seriousness to the situation, it is believed to be more or less attributed to political instability as well as porous borders coupled with other security challenges are indications that leads county to fall prey to the prevailing condition.

Speaking recently with drug users in Congo community in Ganta, many of them explained that they got involved into the unwholesome act as a direct result of economic constrain and rejection by the Liberian government due to education qualifications.

Many of the drug users are said to be ex-child fighters under the administration of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. According to 15 year-old illicit drug addict who preferred to be called Kakaleka, he added that the DEA and other government functionaries should be at fault for the increasing number of illicit drugs in the country.

He indicated that government should go after Nigerians who he claimed are transporters of illegal drugs on grounds that they are the ones bringing illicit drugs into Liberia. “Don’t arrest us, but rather the Nigerians because they are the ones bringing drugs into the country,” Kakaleka observed. 

He expressed willingness to disclose Nigerians who according to him are involved in dealing of illegal drugs based upon government’s ability to provide safe homes for drug users to be rehabilitated.

Kakaleka maintained that instead of carrying illicit drug users to jail there should be education programs implemented by the government to ensure their health needs are taking care of.

For his part, Eddie King buttressed Kakaleka allegation against the government for supporting drug use since according to him Nigerians drug traffickers are seen using various border entries.

“Government is supporting increasing sale of illegal drugs in the country. The Nigerians are the ones that are bringing illicit drugs into the country and they are using the Roberts International Airport”, he alleged.

King, who is said to be age 15, wants the government to arrest Nigerians whom he has accused of selling illicit drugs, noting that if Nigerians are not bringing drugs into the country, the future of youth will be secure and they will no longer consume illicit drugs.

He added that drugs have to do with the brain, saying that you feel, everything you do is important and good. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, once heroin enters the brain, it is converted to morphine and binds rapidly to opioid receptors.

The report also reveals that the initial effects, users usually will be drowsy for several hours; mental function is clouded; heart function slows; and breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes enough to be life-threatening. Slowed breathing can also lead to coma and permanent brain damage.

Meanwhile, many of them said that they want to desist from the habit but there is no programs put into place to empower them which is also one of the contributing factors to the ugly habit.

Also speaking with female journalists in the county, authority of Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) unveiled that 5,550 marijuana trees planted by the Liberian people were discovered as well as destroyed in the Blueto forest.

According to the commander of DEA detachment in Ganta, Julius Kanubah said four persons were also arrested last week including three Nigerians and one Liberian for allegedly involving into selling and consuming drugs in the area.

He explained that the individuals were arrested with huge grams of narcotics, heroin, cocaine and others illicit drugs. Kanubah named the alleged suspect as, Olivar Nwankwo, a 27 year old Nigerian caught with cocaine and narcotic drug, Kendrick Bee, a Liberian with narcotic drug with street value of US$ 451.1, Friday Ukwein, also a Nigerian was arrested with 33.9g of cocaine with value of US$1,120, and George Good, a Nigerian was also arrested with 12 grams of heroin.

He cited that too often Liberians particularly women are booked; something he observed is the result of Liberian youth being used by Nigerians as middle men to carry out the illegal act.

Illicit drug is a threat to the environment because citizens themselves are now engaging in the arrest of suspected traffickers, Kanubah added. According an employee of the DEA, who also preferred not to be named, noted that the influence of bosses or people in higher authority is one major factor responsible for the increase in the sale and use of illicit drugs in the county.

“You cannot expose everybody but rather you can only maximize the situation because if you do insist on forwarding violators, your life and job is at risk”, she stated. She continued that unlike the issue of interest is deal with, the functionaries of the institution cannot be proactive in fighting the matter.

Meanwhile, the Gompa City Magistrate, Owens Freeman admitted of receiving the alleged drugs traffickers but said they are undergoing trail, noting, traffickers are pending two terms of trail which is forty-two days at which time they will be indicted if found guilty.

In addition, the chairman of Congo Community, William Teage said the issue of illicit drugs is alarming in Nimba County particularly the community he belongs as many citizens are even afraid to walk the area during the day but worse during night hours.

He mentioned that the usage of illicit drug has become common among youth of the county amidst the presence of representative of Liberia DEA. Teage emphasizes the need for government to target the root causes of the increasing rise in the sale and use of illicit drugs in the area, thus, penalizing people involved as the issue has the ability to destroy the future of generations to come.

Also commenting on the issue, the deputy police commander, Sensee Woko said the issues of illicit drugs in the county is alarming and the key that is required is focus, stressing that that due to the lack of budgetary support and vehicles officers are constrained to function effectively.

"On many occasions we used our salaries to transport alleged drugs suspects because the county has the population of 60 thousand people who are likely to be one way or the other affected by the situation,” Woko added.

He further narrated that since the beginning of the 2017, the police have so far received ten cases of illicit drugs. He stresses that drugs is dangerous to consumers and the environment they reside as such the situation should not be taken likely, thereby calling on citizens to cooperate in the fight against illicit drugs as it is affecting young people in the county.

Conferring to National Institute on Drug and Abuse, Cocaine is an illicit drug that causes a short-live, intense high that is immediately followed by the contradictory—strong depression, nerviness and a desire for more of the drug. People who use it often don’t eat or sleep correctly. They can experience greatly increased heart rate, muscle spasms and convulsions. The drug can make people feel paranoid, annoyed, unreceptive and anxious even when they aren’t high.

Regardless of how much of the drug is used or how frequently, cocaine increases the risk that the user will experience a heart attack, stroke, seizure or respiratory (breathing) failure, any of which can result in sudden death.

A person coming down from the drugs causes depression in a way that that the person will do almost anything to get the drug, they can even commit murder and if he or she can’t get cocaine, the depression is so intense to the extent that it drives the addict to commit suicide. Probably, this is one of the reasons of the high rate of suicide on the continent.

Report also shows that the effects of narcotic stimulants and other depressants, which initially produce a feeling of euphoria that often is followed by drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. Users also may experience constricted pupils, watery eyes, and itching.

The effects further include nausea and vomiting, abdominal distention and bloating, constipation, liver damage (especially prevalent in abuse of drugs that combine opiates with acetaminophen), brain damage due to hypoxia resulting from respiratory depression and development of tolerance and dependence.

However, according to UN statistics 37,000 people in Africa die annually from disease associated with the consumption of illegal drug. The UN also estimates there are 28 million drug users in Africa of which Liberia is no exception.

The UN report at the same time stated that Africa is completely weak in terms of border control and the big drug cartels from Colombia and Latin America have chosen Africa as a way to reach Europe.

In addition the UN office on Drugs and Crimes noted that West African countries such Guinea Bissau, Liberia and other were becoming the targets of these criminal institutions, which were taking advantage of the weaknesses of police and lack of money and resources to use these countries for transit purposes. “When you become a transit country, you are immediately also consumption countries,” said the Gilberto Gerra, the UN Chief of Drug Prevention and Health.

By: R. Joyclyn Wea

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