MONROVIA – A lead campaigner against the flow of illicit drugs in Liberia, Alfred T. Tomah has alarmed that there are people acting on the instructions of some Liberian Government’s officials and wanting to take away his life.
In recent weeks, Tomah, a youth activist, has intensified his campaign against the proliferation of drugs in the country, which he says is destroying thousands of youthful Liberians including some of his friends.
His activism comes on the back of the arrest and seizure of 520kg of cocaine worth US$100 million by the Liberian security agency with the help of United States’ intelligence in October 2022.
Four suspects were arrested, charged in connection with the illegal substance and sent to court, but in a shock verdict, the jurors listening to the case declared all four defendants not-guilty.
While the US$100 million case was being adjudicated at Criminal Court “C”, the government announced that it arrested another batch of cocaine worth US$40 million. But no arrest was made.
Tomah, has been staging a one-man campaign at various locations in Monrovia, the Liberian Capital, calling for the Government to step up its game in ensuring that all those behind the importation of illegal substances into Liberia are prosecuted.
But he became a target. According to him, he has been receiving calls from unknown people who keep warning him to abort his advocacy as it is painting a bad image for the government.
“Each time these guys who claim that my action is painting a bad image for the government call me, they threaten that if I don’t back off from my advocacy, they will silence me,” Tomah said.
“My life is in danger and I don’t feel safe anymore,” he said.
Asked if he had gone to the authorities to register the alleged threat against him, Tomah said he had informed the police on several occasions beginning in November 2022.
The first time I reported the case to the police was November 15, 2022, the second time was December 4, 2022 and the third time was February 6, 2023.
He said in recent years, there have been several unexplained deaths. Family members of the deceased have alleged their relatives were killed on purpose and not by natural deaths or accidents, and he does not want to end up like that.
“People have died mysteriously. They either disappeared and were discovered dead or never returned home. At first, I was hesitant to go register my case because I didn’t want to be recognized. But after continued threats within a short period of time, I was advised to alert the police.”
The Liberian Legislature is currently debating its draft revised drugs law, which officials say when passed into law, will be a big boost to the country’s fight against illicit drugs.
But it has been several years since the bill was introduced, leaving many people like Tomah to ask why the lawmakers, who have all acknowledged the proliferation of illicit drugs in the country, are reneging to pass the bill that is aimed at controlling the flow of illegal substances.
With the arrest of cocaine worth US$140 million within less than six months, many, including Tomah, are concerned that Liberia is now becoming a major hub for drugs.
Already, dozens of young people have fallen prey to these illegal substances including cocaine, cannabis or marijuana, and the recently introduced Kush.
Called “Zogos,” these strayed youths, addicted to drugs, are found across the streets and cemeteries of Monrovia and other major cities and towns in Liberia. Some turned to petit criminals, snatching away commuters’ traveling materials like handbags, wallets, mobile phones and every other thing they are able to get away with.
Activist Tomah says, because of them, he decided to speak against substance abuse and the proliferation of drugs. But he has expressed fear that this may come at a high price, and if anything happens to him, this may cause unbearable pain to his family.
He said currently, he is now split between two worlds – either to bow to pressure from his family who are asking him to quit his advocacy for his own safety, or to continue speaking against the menace in order to save the future of his beloved country, “Mama Liberia.”
Despite my fear, I have continued my advocacy, but every time I speak out or carry on my sit-in protest, the more I receive threats.
Further narrating his ordeal, Tomah said: “In April, I informed the police. Now, I am often followed most of the time. The last time I informed the police was on June 5, 2023. The police have not done anything to assure me that my life is safe. On each occasion, the police only take my statement and advise me to call 911 whenever I am in danger. But the truth is, the police cannot protect me. If I were a top government official or a VIP, they would have provided security for me. But since I am an ordinary Liberian, I am not entitled to security.”