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Friday, July 19, 2024

OVER 100 COMMUNITY LEADERS COMMIT TO COMBATTING DRUG INVASION, URGE STRICT PENALTIES FOR OFFENDERS

Date:

BREWERVILLE, MONTSERRADO CO. – As a consequence of an engagement with the Ministry of Justice and the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA), a one-day training and awareness workshop was organized by the VOA#1 Community in Brewerville, Montserrado County as a part of a campaign to ensure that communities are secured and drugs free. The workshop was organized as a results of recent violence in the community that led to the death of a student from the Kpallah Public School in the VOA#1 Community in Brewerville. The workshop was held on Saturday, June 29, 2024 by the VOA#1 Community in collaboration with the LDEA under the theme: “DRUGS DESTROY COMMUNITIES” at the New Water in the Desert Assembly Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Brewerville. Participants came from ten communities, CBOs, Drug Enforcement agents and local church actors, amongst others

Welcoming the approximately 150 participants, the Chairlady of the host community, the Wilson Corner Community commonly called “Water in the Desert”, Madam Famatta Reed mentioned that the workshop was the first step towards helping to fight the flow of illicit drugs not only in the VOA#1 Communities but the entire District #17. She commended the organizers, the 10 participating communities and LDEA for the workshop and encouraged the participants “to feel free to bring forth ideas on how to address the drug problem in the community”

Explaining the purpose of the program, lead organizer, Bishop Kortu K. Brown told the participants that Liberia was faced with a global drug challenge that needed to be seriously addressed. “The drug problem permeates every community of our country and many countries in West Africa and beyond. We must be serious to address this problem because it’s increasing insecurity in the country, stealing away our youth potential and threatening the stability of the country, amongst others”, he said, adding that the problem is not only a Government problem but a national problem demanding the involvement of all Liberians regardless of social status or creed.

Bishop Brown who is also a resident of VOA#1 Road told the participants that in many parts of the world when a crime is committed or something bad happens, it will galvanize people to rise up and take action to address its roots causes. He mentioned the gruesome murder of student William Johnson by unknown persons about 4 weeks ago which gave rise to the mobilization of the communities and holding of the drugs awareness workshop to help find solutions to the flow of illegal drugs and insecurity in the community. Student William Johnson, 19, was a 11th Grade student of the Kpallah Public School on the night of June 12 in the Babyma Junction community of VOA#1 Road. He added that following several consultations amongst community leaders, it was resolved that the growing insecurity in the community was being contributed to also by the flow of illicit drugs in the communities.

Speaking on behalf of the LDEA acting Director, Mr. Chris Peters, the Commander of the LDEA for District #17 in Montserrado County, Superintendent Abdullah Kromah commended the people of the electoral district for their support since he took over his duty in the district and reminded residents that “without you, we cannot succeed in fighting drugs in the community. The community must get involve because the drugs dealers and drugs users are sometimes hosted and defended by community members”. He challenged residents to take advantage of their presence in the district and report all cases of illegal drugs use to their command. He praised the people of Kpeikor Community for offering them additional office space to help fight the flow of drugs in the community.

For her part, the Chief of Prevention and Community Outreach at the LDEA, Madam Grace D. Mulbah did her awareness through a power-point presentation beginning with the definition and dangers of illicit drugs adding that “any substance, with the exception of food and water, which, when taken into the body, alters the body’s function either physically and/or psychologically”, is an illegal drug. She further told the participants that the use of illegal drugs or the use of prescription or the use of purposes other than for which it was intended is drug or substance abuse, adding that the abuse of drugs can lead to social, physical, economic, emotional and other problems or effects.

Madam Mulbah spoke of the three types of drugs that are in circulation in the country including depressant drugs which decreases one’s alertness by slowing down the activity of the central nervous system, the stimulant drugs which increases the arousal of the state of the body, and the hallucinogen drugs which makes one to hear or see things that don’t exist. The LDEA officers displayed sample of the drugs that are destroying the lives of the young people of the country which was a moving experience. After the “KUSH” drug was displayed, the LDEA team called on the youths of Liberia to say ‘NO TO DRUGS”.

During the interactive session, participants raised many concerns and questions resulting into many recommendations made calling on the national government and stakeholders to institute a stern penalty for people arrested with illicit drugs, increment in the budget of the LDEA and salaried field agents, provision of logistics for drugs enforcement operations, demolition of places suspected to be marketplaces for sale of illicit drugs, promotion of drugs awareness in all schools in the country, the disrobing and penalization of LDEA agents who participate in drugs activities, etc. The participants also appealed to the LDEA to begin the drugs fight with their agency by rooting agents who participate in the use of illicit drugs and for the agency to partner with local communities in fighting drugs

The participants made an open appeal to the lawmaker of District #17, Honorable Bernard Blue to contribute a portion of his US$100,000 legislative development allotment to the district to assist in the campaign against illicit drugs in his district and communities. The participants resolved to organize “Community Drugs Enforcement Teams” or CDEATs to create awareness and carry on advocacy against illicit drugs and other harmful substances in the communities, schools, churches, mosques, marketplaces and other places.  “CDEATs”, the participants said, “will help rid the communities of drugs and partner with the LDEA and other stakeholders in the anti-drug campaign”.

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