Mandera risks becoming a drug den, county commissioner warns

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Mandera County Commissioner Onesmus Kyatha has warned that the county risks becoming a drug den if quick measures are not taken to address the menace.

Mr Kyatha said timely intervention to tame the fast growing drug peddling business is necessary in order save the county.

“We are faced with an imminent danger of drug menace and if we fail to act now, we shall have a problem in the future, worse than the current Al-Shabaab menace,” he said.

The county security committee chairman was speaking at the end of a four-day training of the county government’s anti-narcotic response unit on Friday.

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“We are faced with more than enough problems including inter-clan conflicts, terrorism and now drug peddling and abuse is fast taking the lead,” he said.

Mr Kyatha urged the anti-narcotic unit to continue fighting the selling of drugs in Mandera.

External interference

He pledged to ensure his team, including the police, do not interfere with the fight against drugs in Mandera.

“When this unit started operating, they were active but somewhere along the way they slowed down. I know what happened and I will ensure that the external interference is dealt with,” he said.

He revealed that some government officers are part of the drug syndicate, which complicates the fight.

Common hard drugs easily found in Mandera include bhang from Ethiopia, alcohol, cocaine, shisha and heroine.

According to Mr Kytha, drug dealers in Mandera are known and it remains a matter of time before they are nabbed.

“We know those dealing in drugs and there was one in Takaba town who used to operate a private health facility. He took off as we closed in on him but we are still searching for him and others,” he said but did not reveal the name of said dealer who remains at large.

Drugs from Ethiopia

He blamed the Shashamane area of Ethiopia for the increase in drugs in Mandera County as he called for cooperation locally in order to win the war.

During the training, the county government officers were taken through the procedures of identifying drugs and arresting the suspected dealers or users.

Rev Wangai Gachoka, the North Eastern regional manager for the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) led the training of the county officers.

“We are carrying out this training so that we can cut on the funding of the terrorism activities from drugs,” said Rev Gachoka.

Mr Ibrahim Ibrein Robow
Mr Ibrahim Ibrein Robow, an officer from Mandera County’s anti-narcotics unit (right) displays the certificate presented to him by Nacada on February 26, 2021 at the end of training on how to tackle the drugs menace.Manase Otsialo | Nation Media Group

Miraa dependence

He revealed that an increase in abuse of prescription drugs like Cozepam (diazepam) and codeine in north eastern Kenya is due to high dependence on miraa.

“Miraa is a drug that cannot be used alone which means the user will need other drugs to control the effects including lack of sleep. Antidepressant drugs are being used by those chewing miraa for them to fall asleep,” he said.

Rev Gachoka blamed security camps in the north eastern for the increase in alcohol consumption in the region.

“Alcohol that is for our security camps is finding its way into the streets and we are asking for a restriction so that the same remains within the camps,” he said.

Go for big fish

Mr Harun Musdaf, a chief officer with the Mandera County government, urged the law enforcers to focus on the big fish in their fight against drugs.

“We have to go for the big fish that include respected members of our society, leaders and even religious leaders for us to win this fight,” said Mr Musdaf.

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