• September 29, 2023


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The Executive Director of the Institute for Drug Control and Human Security (IDCHS), Aiah Nabieu Mokuwah, has in an exclusive interview with Forum News disclosed that the New Direction government is heading in the wrong direction in the fight against drug in the country.


According to Mokuwah, when the government started the construction of carwash facilities for the purpose of youth employment, he wasted no time in warning the government that by doing so government is contributing to fuelling drug use, which has led to the current drug menace.


“The government has been unable to create treatment and rehabilitation centres for drug users to access and is instead opening business centres for the same youth to get jobs. If you enter any of the carwash facilities in the capital and its environs, you don’t need to be told that they are all in it (addicted to drug abuse),” the anti-drug campaigner revealed.


The situation, Mokuwah added, has gotten worse because youths in the carwash business centres have a source of income, unlike previously when many of them were finding it difficult to have access to money to buy their drug of choice.


The IDCHS Executive Director said kush and tramadol are the two most abused recreational drugs across the country.


“I will not say government is not doing anything to fight drugs; my problem with the government is that they are using the wrong approach to fight against drug use and abuse,’ said Mokuwah.


He said the country’s criminal justice system can’t stop drug users from taking drugs but rather should be applied on three categories of people within the drug circle; that is, the big time manufacturers, traffickers and dealers.


The only thing that reduces drug use is a public health system approach to drugs, not the criminal justice system approach, he emphasised.


Therefore, IDCHS is of the strongest conviction that the government has failed to go by the public health approach system. The government thought that by equipping the police to raid ghettoes among other cartels will put an end to drugs abuse.


“But drug abuse is a health problem, and not a criminal issue,” he added.


He went on: “Unless, as a nation we take away the criminal aspect of it for the end users and apply the public health approach system while the criminal justice system targets the big time manufacturers, traffickers and dealers, otherwise we will not be able to reduce drug use.”


He recalled that the National Drug Control Act of 2008 created the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) with the mandate of winning the fight against illicit drugs in the country.


“We have witnessed the huge amount of monies splashed on the agency by ECOWAS to aid them in the fight against drugs in Sierra Leone, yet very little impact has been felt,” Mokuwah said.


Justifying his allegation, he said twenty seven (27) core drug educators were trained by ECOWAS with the mandate of reaching every community in the country on drug abuse and the danger it is posing on youth and the nation.


He further disclosed to Forum News that another 27 drug treatment experts were trained by ECOWAS with a specific mandate of going into communities to assess drug users’ needs, adding that such individuals can be removed from its intake via investigation to know what he or she had and continues to going through.


“Building bridges between drug users and families, community and any other society the drug user has been encountering problems, some of us had gone through such training,” the ED of IDCHS, Aiah Nabieu Mokuwah, continued.


Apart from the training, ECOWAS has also expended a lot of money just to ensure that such trainings are rolled out. Unfortunately, unto date the agency is understaffed and incapacitated to such a point that ‘they can’t even embark on any form of operation’, he revealed.


After quite a number of lengthy requests that were made of it, the government last year handed over a vehicle to NDLEA that was assigned to the director of the agency.


‘Apart from the vehicle, not even a bicycle is available for the NDLEA’s operations,’ the IDCHS ED noted.


Until and unless government pays attention to the NDLEA, that has the right experience and knowledge on the subject matter, and capacitates the mental homes with drug treatment centres across the country, drug abuse will be rife across the country.


‘Even if the government takes all police and military officers and their families to the streets with weapons just to fight against drug abuse, they will not win,’ Mokuwah reiterated.


He told Forum News that more emphasis is being placed on the criminal justice system, which leaves behind the public health approach system against drug abuse.


The IDCHS executive director elaborated that the criminal justice system should be targeting manufacturers, traffickers and dealers for possible incarceration, not the poor and venerable addicts or end users.

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