By: Bekai Njie
The acting director general of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDEA) has disclosed that a total of 476 drug traffickers were arrested in 2012, 92 percent – 436 – of whom are Gambians.
Speaking Tuesday while presenting the Agency’s activity report for the year ended 31st December, 2012 to the members of the Joint Session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly, Bakary Gassama, described the figure as alarming.
“The prosecution registered 240 cases out of the overall total arrests,” he informed, while lamenting that young people still continue to get involved in the drug business despite government’s stance on it.
Gassama bemoaned that tackling the surge of cannabis sativa in the country is still a challenge for the Agency and the country in particular given that it constituted 90% of all drug cases for 2012. He described cannabis as one of the most available drugs in the country that attracts youngsters, saying the statistics about their involvement is a serious cause for concern.
Dilating on funding of the Agency, Gassama said from 2005 to April 2010, the NDEA was under the Ministry of Interior and that its entire mode of operation was supervised by the Ministry. He added that during this period the Agency did not receive its own subvention directly.
“Rather, funds were disbursed from the consolidated funds of the Ministry of Interior on a month-to-month basis until April 2010 when the Agency was moved to the Office of the President,” he said, indicating that from there the Ministry of Interior wrote to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs to transfer the remaining funds of the Agency’s fiscal year to the Office of the President.
The acting DG also told members that in January 2011, the Agency was sub-vented under the Office of the President and was given an autonomous status of managing and controlling its funds internally. To that effect, he added, the Ministry of Finance through the Directorate of National Treasury opened a special account for the Agency where its monthly allocations from the Office of the President are deposited for its utilisation.
From January 2011 to December 2012, he further indicated, the Agency received an operating cost of D49, 596, 459.29. This amount, according to him, was received by the Agency in the form of subvention from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs through the Office of the President where the Agency’s budget line is allocated as well as court fines and monies accrued from the rented properties of the Agency.
“The subventions received totaled to D44, 105, 834.35 representing salaries and allowances, one-by-six advance and other charges respectively,” he informed. The extra funding generated such as 75% court fines on drug cases during the reporting period, he explained, also amounted to D5, 213, 933.99, and D210, 000.00 from the rent of properties of the Agency. The Agency’s financial report was presented by its accountant, Marie Wadda.
Reacting to the reports, the Majority leader and member for Serrekunda East, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, thanked the management and staff of the Agency for a ‘comprehensive and informative’ report. He said the importance The Gambia government attaches to the anti-drug control cannot be overemphasised given its destructive nature on the lives of the young people of any nation. He expressed his satisfaction in the way and manner the Agency is responding to drug control in the country.
The deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Fatou Mbye, acknowledged the effectiveness of the Agency, while lamenting the negative impact of drugs on the young people.
Hon. Abdoulie Saine of Banjul Central, Hon. Pa Malick Ceesay of Lower Saloum, Hon. Muhammed Magassy of Basse, Hon. Babou Gaye Sonko and Hon. Seedy Njie, both nominated members, all took turns to lament the negative impact of drugs on the society.
The Agency’s reports were subsequently adopted.