Army takes lead to round up and ban opium in Yei

By Hassan Arun Cosmas

South Sudan People,s Defence Forces(SSPDF) commander in Yei-River County of central Equatoria state conducted an operation on the business of illegal selling of opium by military personnel in the area.

On Monday, over twenty bags and ten cartons of opium branded super match were burnt at the military headquarters in Yei.

It was the second exercise conducted earlier in May; a similar exercise of burning was done at Yei freedom square in fulfillment of the commissioner’s order on tracking down those dealing in selling illicit drugs in the County.

Speaking to Juba Monitor yesterday, Brigadier general John Lual said that  they have arrested soldiers and confiscated opiums.

“I urgeall the soldiers for reshaping the country to a law abiding like other nations, and I call on all those dealing in trade of the drug to halt.For the last two days, we conducted operation on tracking illegal selling of opium commonly known as “Bangi”from our soldiers. We prohibited this act and behaviour and that is why you see us setting them on fire.”

He added that he wanted to ensure that the country is exemplary in respecting the law. “We are implementing the laws of the nation. We gained our independent and we want to ensure that it is a law abiding country like other nations in the world,”

Meanwhile, Michael Machar,Director for civil military relation in Yei warned the army from involving in the business of selling illicit drugs.

“ the exercise carried out by the SSPDF command should be an example to the rest of the leadership of south Sudanese people’s defence forces in the country in order to transform the army,”

He added that the practice of selling illicit drugs like the opium was a crime that may lead to sanction by international communities.Army should not do business of such kind. So what they were doing here was an example across the country. If other colleagues who were the immediate command of the SSPDF did the same, then they would have transformed the army and it would be a discipline army. Those encouraging this kind of business wanted to destroy the army. Selling opium was not a business of soldiers of a country because the  practice would put the nation under sanction because it was a criminal act. Macharurged all the SSPDF officers in Yei not to continue rendering that criminal activity.

Meanwhile Commissioner Cyrus Kanyikwa explained that all cause of insecurity in Yei was perpetrated by those dealing in opium.

He described the initiative taken by SSPDF Commander as positive step towards managing crimes associated with their profession.

Cyrus said the army was the hope of the citizens and the nation because they play big role in safeguarding the territory of the nation and its citizens.

“One of the causes of insecurity in Yei River County is opium. The beginning of the conflict early this Year from Lata began because there was a disagreement between the army and the rebels over trade of opium. Taking such an initiative shows how positive SSPDF is taking responsibility in managing crimes that are associated with their profession especially crimes that have been labelling south Sudanese as irresponsible having this arrested and burnt by the army is an example to the nation and the world at large that we have a responsible army that cares about the nation, citizens and their property. The army is where our hope is, “mentioned Commissioner Cyrus.

Commissioner Cyrus stressed government’s obligation and commitment to protect the citizen from any harm.

Earlier,  Yei County Commissioner Aggrey Cyrus Kanyikwa issued an order banning sales of harmful drugs and some imported whisky gins.

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