The name Obi is not new to Liberia’s criminal justice system. Most Liberians living today were not yet born when in late 1969 a Nigerian Chemistry teacher named Justin Obi from Cuttington College and Divinity School (now Cuttington University) stormed the offices of Episcopal Bishop Dillard Browne and gunned him down in cold blood. Also killed on the spot was the bishop’s treasurer, Mr.
Nader, a Lebanese national. Justin then attempted to flee to neighboring Guinea, but was apprehended in Gbarnga after Cuttington students spotted him and alerted the police.
He was prosecuted, convicted of murder and President William R. Tolbert, who succeeded the deceased President Tubman in July 1971, signed Obi’s death warrant. He was later hanged at the Monrovia Central Prison at South Beach, Monrovia.
Another Obi has appeared on the national scene. This time, the alleged crime is admittedly far from murder, but it is indeed a slow killer of our youth.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced Wednesday that it had seized from a Nigerian national, “a sophisticated illicit drug manufacturing equipment.” The seizure took place at the Free Port of Monrovia.
At a press conference in his Fiamah office, DEA Director Anthony Souh displayed what he called the drug manufacturing machine, along with a pack of molding papers known as Rizla.
The arrest of the equipment, according to the Director, “poses serious challenges to the Agency because instead of importing illicit drugs, those in the illegal trade now intend to manufacture illegal substances in the country.”
Further narrating the story, Director Souh told reporters that on October 2, 2015 a company called Wisdom Enterprise, owned by one Damain Obi, a Nigerian national and located at the Caldwell
Bridge in Logan Town, Bushrod Island, imported into Liberia through the Free Port of Monrovia a 20-foot container of assorted goods from the Republic of China.
The equipment confiscated came in declared as water pumps, but he described them as “some form of filter with all kinds of devices, which constitutes ‘False Declaration,’ an offense under the Customs Law of Liberia.”
Wisdom Enterprise was duly fined on the spot. The DEA officers discovered that the so-called water pumps or water filters were “clandestine devices,” with the initials ‘RPS I.’
“These machines,” according to the DEA, “can also be used to convert marijuana to hashish or hash. They also have the capacity to mix different chemicals through heating into other forms of illicit drugs.”
When questioned about the usage of the machines, however, the importer “reportedly decided to beg and allegedly offered an initial amount of US$500 to keep everything secret until they reached the suspect’s business center. . .”
That in itself is an admission of guilt, but, of course, when the matter reaches court, the importer will most likely deny ever begging or offering the DEA officers a bribe.
Due to the gravity of the situation, the DEA Commander and his men on duty requested a Writ of Search and Seizure on the importer’s premises. But by the time they reached the premises, “the importer had apparently received a tip-off and moved the two machines to an unknown location.”
This alarming story is a clear indication that the government of Liberia needs to take its Drug Enforcement Agency much more seriously by giving its officers greater logistical and financial support if the DEA is to deal effectively with this growing drug menace in the country.
For it is a fact that these dangerous drug dealers are now determined not only to continue their trade but to manufacture drugs within the country and further harm our young people.
As we said in an earlier editorial, drug dealers have a lot of money to spread around. The DEA and the court system need to be empowered to handle effectively these cases if the war on drugs must be won.
Damain Obi, his cohorts and all others like them must be taken very seriously and the full weight of the law must be applied to save our country and people from this terrible menace that tends to alienate our youth from reality and drive them further from the track of progress and development.