President George Weah has dismissed ‘accusations’ that his government may be contributing to the growing cases of drug-related addictions across the country.
The President, while addressing supporters in Gbarnga, Bong County, noted that the allegations made by his opponents are untrue and that the facts remain that the issue of drug abuse has been an age-old problem which cannot be blamed on his administration.
Weah then claimed that drugs have been in Liberia from the time he “was young” but his government is doing well in cracking down on the trade by passing some of the harshest drugs laws the country has ever had, arresting traffickers and prosecuting drug related cases.
“They are informing you that our government is bringing drugs into the country, but I can tell when I was a young man drugs were in Liberia,” the President said at a campaign rally in Gbarnga on September 13.
“We have no reason to promote drugs because we are not a student of drugs. If you can remember in 2014 a government official was going across the Sierra Leone border [and] drugs were in their car.
“Those people were NSA director within their 12 years regime, and today they are accusing this government that is doing well to arrest everyone who will bring drugs in this country; but they are telling you that the government is bringing in drugs, which is a lie.”
The President has for a considerable period of time now been criticized for his government’s weak approach for the rising cases of drug abuse. His opponents claim that his ‘lukewarm’ approach suggests that his government is indeed involved in the drug trade.
The increase in drug cases and trafficking, has become a worry for many Liberians as a result of increase in criminal activity due to drug abuse.
The President’s response is apparently his administration’s defense against a barrage of criticism concerning the recent drug bust at the Roberts International Airport. Yet, his administration would be remembered for its weak handling of the infamous US$100 million drugs trafficking case, in which the defendants were caught red-handed, but were surprisingly acquitted.
Following that trial, the President managed to sign into law an amended drugs act, which makes most drug-related offenses non-bailable.
The law includes stricter penalties for drug offenses and makes it extremely difficult for individuals charged with drug-related crimes to be released on bail.
Drug dealers, cultivators, and manufacturers, as per the law, are not eligible for bail until their trial is completed and, if found guilty, would be sentenced to life imprisonment.
The changes differ significantly from the previous law, which allowed individuals charged with drug offenses to be released on bail and sentenced to about 10 years in jail.
The President who boasted of administration decisive and comprehensive steps to combat the drugs problem, has acknowledged monetary challenges for his security forces to be aggressive.
“In 2014, when I was Senator, [there] were people who wanted to break down the graves because they believed that drugs were in the graveyards in Montserrado County. But I refused because my parents’ graves were there. So [this is] to tell you that drugs were here before.
“The joint security of Liberia is doing well when it comes to arresting people every day who are doing drug business, despite the limited resources in enhancing their work,” Weah said.
Additionally, the President, during his reelection campaign remarks, has also appealed to the Liberian electorate to cite him for “more development activities across the Country.”
Weah noted that it is time for Liberians to stop listening to the rhetoric of opposition politicians who are claiming to be “rescuers and fixers.”
He noted the opposition politicians have never rescued and fixed Liberia and, as such, “they lack the technical knowledge to do so.”
He challenged members of the opposition, who are claiming to be ‘rescuers’ and ‘fixers’, to point to what they have rescued and fixed for Liberians before.
“Some of those who are claiming to be rescuers had numerous leadership opportunities to work in public service for years, and that they did nothing but squander all the opportunities to rescue Liberians.
“Liberia is 176 years old, and within five years — even with the COVID-19 pandemic — I have built more hospitals than any other President in Liberian history.
“I am the only person who can rescue Liberia. It’s me, not any of the presidential candidates.”