Thursday, July 28, 2011

Browsing Freedom Newspaper Costs Editor Keita His Job

journalist Keita

Pro-government Daily Observer newspaper’s sports editor was fired after he was discovered to have browsed Freedom, a U.S based Gambian online newspaper, Observer’s acting editor-in-chief has revealed.
Mr Nanama Keita is alleged to have presented false information to a public officer when he petitioned The Daily Observer’s managing director to the president’s office on allegations of financial malpractices at the company, following his dismissal, he calls wrongful.
Editor Keita however denied any wrong-doing
“When it was realised by the IT expert that Mr Nanama Keita had browsed the Freedom newspaper, the MD [Pa Malick Faye] was left with no other option but to sack him,” Editor Alagie Jobe testified in a crowded courtroom on Monday at the Banjul Magistrate’s Court.
Critical to the regime of President Yahya Jammeh, Freedom is a Gambian online newspaper owned and edited Pa Nderry Mbai, a U.S based Gambian journalist. Journalist Mbai had worked for The  Daily Observer and later The Point newspaper before he left for U.S. in 2004.  
In his testimony, Editor  Jobe said, the article on alleged financial malpractices against The  Daily Observer’s managing director, Pa Malick Faye published on Freedom came after MD Faye privileged him to control a vehicle allocated to the editorial desk.
“I head the editorial department and the accused is answerable to me,” he said.
“A day after the vehicle was handed-over to me, I received a telephone called  from the MD Faye at around 10 pm; that the editor of Freedom newspaper telephoned him on the claims that he (MD) bought a vehicle for me and [he is responsible] for other financial malpractices.”
He added: “That night I was summoned for a meeting alongside Assan Sallah, the news editor, marketing manager, and one Lamin Sanneh. The accused was not invited.”
Jobe claimed that the article that was published on Freedom newspaper was sent to them by a friend because, he said, they cannot access the website.
 However, he told the court that he knew who sent the article the moment he read it. But the same Editor Jobe in a short while denied saying that statement when cross-examined by   Neneh Cham, the defense counsel for the accused.
Jobe revealed that the accused was invited at the same night when his computer was screened by the IT expert and it was found that he has contacts with Freedom.
The moment all those things were discovered, he explained, the managing director ordered the seizure of Nanama’s computer.
Freedom, though, continued to publish articles related to the subject.
Jobe alleged the accused angrily left and wrote a statement when he knew that he could not be re-instated.
“He begged me many times to talk to the managing director,” editor Jobe revealed, referring to his former co-worker who had been with the Daily Observer company since 2003 shortly after completing his secondary school education and rose through various ranks from freelancer, columnist, staff reporter and sports editor.

“And after few days later,” editor Jobe went on, “We received investigators regarding the financial malpractices alleged by the accused.”
Nanama was subsequently charged after it was realised that the petition he wrote to the president about his wrongful termination was false, Jobe said.

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