As the dispute for the post of Chairman in the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) drags on, the incumbent chairman said some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and politicians who are alleged to have dealings with the drug traffickers were trying to remove him from his post. NDDCB Chairman Dr. Nilanga Samarasinghe told the Sunday Times [...]


Drug Control Board’s former chief says unsavoury elements behind his removal


As the dispute for the post of Chairman in the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) drags on, the incumbent chairman said some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and politicians who are alleged to have dealings with the drug traffickers were trying to remove him from his post.

The letter of appointment

NDDCB Chairman Dr. Nilanga Samarasinghe told the Sunday Times that as drug trafficking in the country was a well organised crime, drug prevention programmes were being used as a cover for some NGOs to obtain foreign funding.

“There are at least three such organisations active in the country and they are the ones who wanted to oust me. Since I took over the office there have been significant achievements in both drugs eradication programmes and awareness programmes.

Those NGOs launched only awareness campaigns in girls’ schools where the possibility to get addicted to drugs is relatively low,” he said.

He also said since he took office, the NDDCB conducted 400 programmes countrywide to eradicate the drug menace in the country while the NGOs completed 36 programmes.

“They know very well if the NDDCB works to its full capacity, they would be left with nothing to do. Therefore they canvassed some powerful politicians who are alleged to have links to drug traffickers and peddlers to remove me,” he said.

The NDDCB has compiled a list of 174 individuals alleged to be engaged in drug trafficking and peddling in the country. The list includes Parliamentarians, local politicians, and senior Government officials.

Dr. Samarasinghe who is currently provided with two Ministerial Security Division (MSD) officers for his security after he came up with the list alleged that he tried to hand over the list to the President and Prime minister but could not do so far.

He alleged that the Narcotics Unit set up at the Presidential Secretariat is misleading the president with wrong facts and information. although the president is determined to wipe out the menace.

“When I tried to meet him, some officials at the unit prevented the meeting with him. There had been many meeting at the secretariat on how to control the drug menace in the country but I was not invited for any of these meetings,” he said.

According to the sitting chairman Dr Samarasinghe, the move to remove him from post was an arbitrary action by the ministry secretary without informing the minister.

“Any appointment to the chairman post should be done by the minister himself. The secretary or any others cannot sanction such appointments. None of the letters sent to me from the ministry is authorized by any signatures,” he added

Dr. Samarasinghe claimed that shortly after he was notified about his removal Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe spoke to him regretting what had been happening and instructed him to stay in the post.

“The Prime Minister took up the issue at the cabinet meeting headed by President Maithripala Sirisena last week and the Cabinet unanimously decided to let me stay in the post,” he said.

The newly appointed Chairman, retired DIG Sirisena Herath told the Sunday Times that he is still the legitimate chairman of the NDDCB since the appointment letter given to him by the Law & Order and Prison Reforms Ministry is effective. “There has been no letter revoking my appointment even after I assumed duties,” he said.

Mr. Herath assumed duties as the chairman of the NDDCB last Friday while the former chairman was in office. Law & Order and Prison Reforms Ministry Secretary Jagath Wijeweera, Senior Assistant Secretary Donald Murage, and other senior officials took part in the ceremony.

“On that day I collected my letter from the ministry and went to the Board office to assume duties at an auspicious time. Buddhist monks, Catholic priests and the entire staff were present at the event. The former chairman, Dr. Samarasinghe, as the outgoing chairman shook hands with me,” he said.

The onetime chief of the police narcotics unit said that he is still waiting to hear from the law and order ministry to put a full stop to this dispute.

The Sunday Times was able to obtain the letters and communiques issued regarding the appointment of the chairman with conflict of interests between various state institutions.

In an official memorandum titled “Appointments to state boards and corporations” on November 3, the President’s Secretary P. B. Abeykoon directed the Law & Order and Prison Reforms Ministry Secretary Jagath Wijeweera to appoint three key officials of the Board including the Chairman as the Ministry had nominated them.

“As your Ministry nominated these individuals, the President has granted approval for the appointments of H.M. Sirisena Herath as the Chairman of the Board and Ven. Keeniyawela Palitha Thera and D.J.P. Sirilala Fernando as the Directors of the Board,” the letter said.

Two days later the secretary to the ministry Jagath Wijeweera issued a letter appointing Mr Herath informing him that he has been appointed as the chairman.

“In consultation with President Maithripala Sirisena and the subject minister whose powers vested upon him under the act of National Dangerous Drugs Board 1984 clause of 11, you have been appointed as the chairman of the board,” the letter to Mr. Herath said.

Secretary to the ministry of Law & Order and Prison Reforms Jagath Wijeweera told the Sunday Times that the dispute over the chairmanship of the drug agency should be solved by higher authorities in the Government, since he followed the directive issued by the then minister Thilak Marapana, who resigned this week.

“I have issued those directives as I was asked to do so by my minister. The normal procedures when it comes to such appointment of key officials were followed,” he said.

Rejecting the claim that political influence might have played a big role in the recent appointment to the National Drug agency, Mr Wijeweera said there is a committee at the President Secretariat to oversee all appointments to State institutions and based on its recommendation President Maithripala Sirisena granted approval for the new appointment.

“The Presidential Secretariat notified us about the new appointment. Accordingly the Ministry issued directives removing the current chairman and appointing a former Deputy Inspector of Police (DIG) to that position,” he said.

The Ministry Secretary said there is nothing surprising about removing key officials in State institutions when a new government takes office.

“When a new government takes office, almost all the key officials of institutions are changed,” he said. However Dr. Samarasinghe was appointed soon after President Maithripala Sirisena took office in January.

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.