13 June 2012

Gambia: Disabled Man Arrested for 'Drug Peddling'

Operatives of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) have arrested a disabled man who'concealed drugs in his crutches'. The accused, Sheikh Tijan Sowe is currently under the custody of NDEA and is helping the officers in their investigation.

Confirming this to the Daily Observer, Superintendent Abdoulie Ceesay, the public relations officer of NDEA said the incident happened on 15th May, 2012 when NDEA operatives in Brikama raided the accused, upon receiving a tip-off that he is dealing in drugs. He said a thorough search was conducted on him during which 40 stones of harsis were found in his crutche sticks with each of the crutche carrying 20 stones of harsis.

Supt Ceesay said the accused was arrested and taken to Brikama Police Station where he was detained, cautioned and charged. He added: "The investigators were trying to know the source where the accused got the stones but still he is not cooperating with the investigators. He is charged under Section 43 for being in possession of harsis for the purpose of trafficking contrary to Section 434D and dealing in prohibited drugs contrary to Section 33(1) of the Drug Control Act."

The NDEA spokesperson stressed that information is key as far as drug enforcement is concerned, saying Sowe's arrest came from a tip-off which the operatives acted on. He continued: "The case is a very rare case but for us, [but] it is not a surprise. We all know that in drug enforcement itself, any kind of concealment will not take us by surprise because everyday drug dealers are adopting new concealments."

While admitting that they didn't expect a man of that nature to think of such a thing, Ceesay was quick to note that disability does not mean inability."So being a disabled [person] using it as opportunity to traffic is not an excuse. There is nowhere in the Drug Control Act where disables are exempted from prosecution. Obviously, he will face the full force of the law," he said.

He also made it clear that any person who is found with more than 10 grams of harsis would be charged for drug trafficking and the penalty is a fine of nothing less than D1 million and a jail term of not less 10 years. In a similar but different case, the NDEA PRO disclosed that on the 8th of June, 2012 at about 7 am, one Sankung Jaiteh was arrested by the villagers of Tumani Tenda in the West Coast Region with two bundles and some quantities of cannabis.

The NDEA PRO said that the accused was coming from Casamance, Southern Senegal on his bicycle and on arrival in Tumani Tenda, he decided to take a rest and later proceed on his journey. "Unfortunately where he was relaxing under a tree, he was spotted by two young boys who went and reported to the villagers that they have seen a strange person in the outskirts of the village in that early morning," he said.

He further stated that the villagers came to find out who the man was and what he was doing there. "The villagers then realised that he was carrying cannabis inside his bag with his pedal bicycle. The accused was arrested by local villagers who later called the Mandinaba Police Station where he was handed over. He was then charged for drug trafficking contrary to Section 434E of the Drug Control Act and dealing in prohibited drugs contrary to Section 33 of the Drug Control Act."

Similarly, PRO Ceesay also revealed that on the 3rd of June 2012, acting on a tip-off, NDEA officers attached to Wellingera Police Station together with Police officers raided the residence of a notorious drug dealer known as Lamin Saidykhan. He revealed that the accused was said to have come from Casamance to collect his consignment. He said shortly on arrival, a thorough search was conducted in the accused person's room and 14 big bundles of suspected cannabis were recovered.

He said SaidyKhan was arrested and taken to Wellingera Police Station and is currently charged under Section 43 for trafficking in cannabis and dealing in prohibited drugs contrary to Section 33 of the Drug Control Act. "The accused was sometime [ago] arrested with some quantities of cannabis which he was granted bail and his file was due to be mentioned soon and in between, he went again to involve into this thing," Ceesay further revealed.

The NDEA spokesperson further stated that one Basiru Manga was also arrested at Bullock Police Station on 6th June 2012. He said the accused boarded a commercial vehicle from the Fonis heading to Brikama and upon arrival at the checkpoint, a thorough search was conducted on the vehicle and two big bundles of suspected cannabis were found in his bag. Ceesay added that the accused was arrested and escorted to Sibanor Police Station where he was cautioned, detained and finally charged.

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