….“The Ministry of Justice, through the Joint Security of Liberia, has confirmed that the consignment of boxes it intercepted containing herbal plants at the Roberts International Airport reveals a presence of methamphetamine,” the Minister of Information, Ledgerhood Rennie said in a release.
In a surprising turn of events, the administration of President George Weah has finally conceded that the “ten boxes seized” at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) do, in fact, contain illicit drugs.
The Weah government's admission comes after initially claiming that the boxes, which were seized by the Armed Forces of Liberia, contained packets of raw moringa tea leaves, but further testing was needed for validation.
Officers of the joint security who had accompanied Atty. D. Blamo Kofa, Assistant Commissioner for Customs, Compliance & Enforcement Division at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) was seen chewing the alleged Moringa tea leaves to prove that they “were not drugs.”
The public display of the boxes on Monday by the LRA came twelve days after the boxes were seized. During this period, the government kept silent on the matter until a Frontpage Africa newspaper story brought the issues to the forefront.
“The Ministry of Justice, through the Joint Security of Liberia, has confirmed that the consignment of boxes it intercepted containing herbal plants - packaged and in natural form - at the Roberts International Airport reveals a presence of methamphetamine,” the Minister of Information, Ledgerhood Rennie said in the release.
Rennie added that “As part of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency's investigation, which included scientific examination, samples tested revealed the presence of the illicit drug, which is banned under the rules of United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes.”
The release from Rennie's office came just as the Daily Observer and Frontpage Africa had reported yesterday that tests conducted had revealed the consignments contained methamphetamine, a highly addictive substance. The release validates the two newspapers’ reports which surrogates of the governments had initially criticized as a witch-hunt.
Rennie’s statement comes amidst serious public concerns among Liberians about how sincere the government might be in tackling the growing drug trade and abuse within the country.
Rennie did not disclose specific details regarding the origin of the boxes, the intended destination, or the individuals involved. He, however, claimed that the government has pledged to take swift action to bring those responsible to justice, emphasizing the need to curb the proliferation of drugs in Liberia.
The minister of justice had instructed the country’s joint security team to launch a thorough investigation into the matter, Rennie said.
“The Minister of Justice Cllr. Frank Musah Dean has with immediate effect ordered the Joint Security of Liberia, as well as the LDEA, LNP and the NSA, to expand their investigations on the importation of the illegal drugs with the aim of bringing to justice all those involved.
“The public will be duly updated as progress is made on the investigation and in the wider fight against illicit drugs and transnational criminals,” Rennie noted.
Drugs, particularly methamphetamine, pose a significant threat to society due to their highly addictive nature and destructive impact on individuals and communities.
The methamphetamine, which the LDEA has discovered, is a potent and highly addictive central nervous system stimulant. It affects the brain's dopamine and norepinephrine systems, leading to an intense rush of euphoria and increased energy levels.
Users often experience increased aggression, paranoia, and violent behavior, posing potential harm to themselves and others.
The drug bust, which was first reported by Frontpage Africa, claimed that Samuel Freeman, the Director of Security Manager at the Airport, was caught while attempting to transport the boxes through an unauthorized gate.
According to the airport authorities, Freeman has been suspended for time indefinitely pending an investigation into allegations involvement in the smuggling of “cargo through an unauthorized gate on the tarmac.”
The airport authority stated that the alleged action was in violation of Section 4 of the airport Human Resource manual.
Freeman, who has denied the allegations, has already claimed that the boxes were consignments for President Weah’s Chief of Protocol, Nora Finda Bundoo.
It turns out that he has also denied making such a statement as reported by the soldiers who seized the boxes.
Bundoo has since distanced herself from Freeman’s allegation, claiming she has no knowledge of the drugs in question.
The latest brust comes as Weah’s administration has consistently expressed a commitment to combating drug trafficking, but the recent incident is just one of the many drugs burst in the country, with the infamous one being a US$100 million.