LIBERIA: Sheikh Kromah Wants President Weah Sign Drugs Bill It In To Law
The Executive Director of the Ahlul-Bayt Assembly for Development in Liberia Sheikh Askary Musa Kromah, has lauded the Liberian Legislature for passing the drug bill into law which he noted, would make drugs importation a non-bailable offense.
Ahlu-Bay is an Arabic phrase that literally means, “People of the House” or “Family of the House”. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the family of Prophet Muhammad. Sheikh Kromah says Ahlu-Bay (AS) Assembly for Development in Liberia operates several academic institutions across the country with affordable fees that enable parents and guardians who cannot afford to send their children to schools that are charging exorbitant fees.
“Making the drug law a non-bailable crime will help mitigate its abuse and cycling across the country, He said
He said some of the reasons why substance abuse has increased across the country, is that often perpetrators are released on bail.
Sheikh Kromah, if this continues, it will be difficult to win the fight against drugs despite government efforts.
He however, used the occasion to call on the Liberian leader to sign into law the drug law passed by the Liberia Legislature, something which he said, will help to make Liberia to be free of drugs.
Sheikh Askary Musa Kromah, also appealed to the government to empower the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) and its security partners to help the fight against drugs importation, proliferation and addiction.
He made the statement over the weekend at in Jah Tondo Town, In Brewnville City, at program commemorating of Prophet Mohammed on his forward Haj (Pilgrimage) as Huatu Wadaa.
He noted that, victims of various consumption of illicit drugs and other abused substances welcomed recent passage by the National Legislature of several amendments to the country’s Drug Law making most offenses non-bailable.
He noted that, it is long overdue, and further called on the Liberian leader, President George M. Weah to immediately sign into law this Act, in other to take effect.
According to him, drug dealers, cultivators, and manufacturers are not eligible for bail until trial is completed and if found guilty, they would be sentenced to life imprisonment.
He pointed that, the law if President George Weah sign anytime soon, includes stricter penalties for drug offenses and makes it extremely difficult for individuals charged with drug-related crimes to be released on bail.
Sheikh Kromah, boasted that, this is a significant change 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 Legislators’ move is part of the government’s effort to combat drug-related crimes, which are becoming a major problem in urban cities across the country.
Many experts believe that the new law will help to reduce drug use and drug-related crimes in the country as it sends a strong message to drug dealers that the government is serious about combating drugs.
He noted that, law is good, because it would reduce the importation or sale of illicit drugs because a holistic approach that involves aggressive public awareness campaigns.
“The problem of drug abuse is not new, but the trend has become worrisome with a high prevalence rate of drug use among Liberian youth as the rise in organized crime has made it easier for drugs to be produced, trafficked and sold” he said..
The clergyman said, Liberia has one of the highest rates of drug use in West Africa, with cannabis and heroin being the most commonly used, and males are more likely to use drugs than their female counterparts.
It can be recall that the Liberian government, having realized the consequences of drug abuse on the productivity of a nation’s workforce, has launched a US$13 million program in collaboration with the United Nations and partners to provide rehabilitation, skills training, social integration, and employment opportunities for drug users across the country.
Launching the program last year, President Goerge Weah observed that the, “Growing cases of drug abuse,” pose an imminent danger to Liberia which continues to grow in size and scope.
Since the program’s launch, much has not been heard about its implementation as many drug users roam the streets or introduce any rehabilitation and reintegration instead of being harshly criminalized.
The Legislative amendments come after the joint Conference Committee which was set up to harmonize the differences between both the House and Senate earlier versions of the law proposed that trafficking, cultivation, manufacture, importation, exportation, and sale of illicit drugs should be made a first-degree felony, which would make the crime a non-bailable offense.
The committee added that the sentence for such crime is life imprisonment upon conviction, with properties, real and personal used in the commission of these crimes escheated to the state.
The proceeds from the sale of the properties according to the Committee, would be appropriated with 25% going towards drug enforcement agencies, another 25% allotted for drug prevention and rehabilitation programs, and the remaining 50% is allocated to the general revenue.
The Committee at the same time makes the use or consumption of controlled illicit drugs a second-degree felony having recognized the constitutional right to bail. The bail amount the Committee noted, will equal twice the value of the illicit drugs, and be covered in cash, a manager’s check, or a bank certificate.
The Committee argued that illicit drug users are victims, rather than criminals. It also mandates that non-Liberian convicts for any of these drug-related offenses will face deportation after serving their sentence.
Based on the Committee’s advice, members of the Legislature voted in majority to the various proposed amendments which make the law now known as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 2023.
In an an other development, the Liberian clergy used the occasion to call for unity among Muslins in Liberia.
Sheik Kromah, who is also Special Representative of Ahul –Bayt-(AS) World Assembly, notes there is complete disunity among Muslims because of differences which has made some to create hatred for one another.
He says Muslims in Liberia have broken their religion into sects with each group rejoicing in its belief, others with each other whether Shia Muslims or Sunnis. Sheik Kromah made the call.
According to him, such group of people support ideas which are not based on the truth and use them only to serve their own purposes, whereas the Qur’an refers all arguments to one source. Sheik Kromah says unfortunately, the weakness of the Muslim world today is because of this type of disunity.
He stresses that if Muslims were united, there will be unity and strength among them and they will be able to build more schools and universities as well as health centers in the country. “Even if scholarship is given to other Muslims to enable them get higher education they discriminate that offer”, he concludes.