The House of Parliament yesterday amended the National Drug Control Act, which returned to Parliament under a certificate of urgency signed by the President, to have a retroactive effect on the presently held cocaine suspects.
Introducing the bill in parliament, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development, Dauda Kamara, said it was necessary for him to revisit parliament with the same bill to seek the authority of MPs to amend the Act so as to provide for its effectiveness according to the current circumstances prevailing in the country.
“I believe any time in the history of a country, a nation is put to a test for which the necessity to come together and react together in protecting the integrity of the country more so when it deals with drugs,” he said. “That is why we seek the need to come back here to you to seek the authority to determine a commencement of the Act with the following insertions to require the Act be made to operate on the day to be fixed by a statutory instrument.”
The bill received the support of every MP who contributed yesterday, including Hon Frank Kposowa of SLPP, who said not long ago they passed the drug law that is serving as an impediment to the development of the youths. Hon Kposowa was supported by Hon Tamba Kaigbanje, also of SLPP, who reiterated that drugs have made the youths to be “useless” and that even with the passing of the new drug bill, people still traffic cocaine into the country.
Hon Dr Bernadette Lahai of SLPP referred to two main sections of the constitution, including section 23(7), which states that no person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence. That Act, she stated, sparked discussions about whether the new drug law shall have a retroactive effect on the cocaine suspects.
She also mentioned section 105 (5), which states that no law made by parliament shall come in to operation until it has been published in the gazette, but parliament may postpone the coming in to operation of any such law and may make laws with retroactive effect.
“We are here to counteract what the sections said,” she stated, “and until and unless we do that we will not be able to bring those suspects for cocaine to book.”
Hon. Tombo of APC and Hon Kellie Conteh with Hon Eric Jumu of SLPP all spoke in strong support of the bill.
The National Drug Act 2008 stipulates that any person who sells, supplies, exposes or offers for sale or other deals with any prohibited drug commits an offence and is liable on conviction to life imprisonment.
By Ishmael Bayoh & Yu Nakayama