Monday, September 26, 2011

Journalist Keita’s Lawyer Slams Arrest Order

Journalist Keita
The lawyer for journalist Nanama Keita has disapproved Banjul Magistrates’ Court order for the former Daily Observer newspaper’s sports editor to be arrested.
Mr Keita is charged with giving false information to a public officer when he petitioned his former employer, The Daily Observer Company to the Office of the President claiming, among others, wrongful termination of his engagement.
He however pleaded not guilty.
When the case resumed on Monday, Mr Keita, who was released on bail in the sum of D100, 000.00 was unavailable, but the court has granted his lawyer’s request for the matter to be adjourned.
Journalist Keita’s arrest warrant however came in the wake of reports that he has fled to the United States of America.
 “We’ve got information that the accused is not in town,” the prosecutor revealed upon his return in the courtroom almost 25 minutes after the case was adjourned. And the court granted his request for arrest warrant.

Lawyer Cham disapproves

“The matter should not have been called in my absence because the case was already adjourned by the magistrate,” lawyer Neneh M Cham told The Daily News in her office in Banjul on Monday.
“What the court should have done is wait till the next adjourned date and if the accused is absent, it can then issue an arrest warrant.”
Mrs Cham could not confirm reports that her client is not in the country, saying it is news to her. She added: “I don’t see any reason he should be scared of the case and I am not aware that he is not in town.”

Nanama in U.S

Meanwhile, The Daily News has however confirmed that Mr Keita has left the country via Dakar to attend the 2011 Reham al-Farra Memorial Fellowship Programme in New York, USA.
The six-week journalists fellowship, which starts Tuesday at United Nations headquarters brings together 14 young journalists representing media organisations in the Bahamas, Barbados, Cameroon, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Kiribati, Oman, Palau, Swaziland, Tajikistan and the United Arab Emirates.
Mr Keita has been confirmed as a participant, representing The Standard newspaper of The Gambia

Fired GRTS Reporter Not Surprise by His Conviction


magistrate Bojang

Mr Dodou Sanneh, a former staff of state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) said, his conviction by the magistrates’ court in Banjul did not surprise him. Journalist Sanneh, who was speaking to this paper however declined to comment further.
The former GRTS reporter was charged with giving false information when he petitioned GRTS to the Office of the President, claiming that he was wrongfully dismissed by the state broadcaster in 2006. He had pleaded not guilty.
“I found you as guilty as charged,” magistrate Ma-Nyima Bojang told Sanneh in a parked courtroom at Banjul Magistrates’ Court yesterday bringing an end to the journalist’s seven month-long ordeal.
She ordered Mr Sanneh to pay D500 else spend six month in jail. The reporter however walked home as a freeman after Gambia Press Union (GPU) rushed to his aid by depositing the sum at the court.
Mr Sanneh’s engagement at the state media was terminated in 2006 for no stated reason. But according to GRTS Boss, the journalist was fired for ‘bias reportage’ when he was assigned to cover a mass political rally of the main opposition-United Democratic Party (UDP) in the run up to the presidential elections in 2006.
“You (Sanneh) knew why you were sacked because you exaggerated number of people when you were assigned to cover the UDP rally in 2006,” magistrate Bojang said in her judgement. “You have been warned many times by the GRTS management but instead of apologising, you acted negatively.”
The judgement came after the testimony of three witnesses, including GRTS boss Momodou Sanyang and a senior staff, Mr Kebba Dibba for the state and two defence witnesses for journalist Sanneh.
Mr Sanndeh was left without a legal representation after defense lawyer Borry Touray withdrew his representation when the magistrate rejected his request for a re-start of the trial.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Military Officer Allegedly Kills Old Woman: Justice Minister, Police say they are Unaware

Minister Gomez
Mrs Mariama Ann, a retired cleaner at the department of NGO Affairs met her untimely death on Friday August 26 after a military officer knocked her down with a vehicle at the outskirts of Mile 2 prison, The Daily News can report.
A native of Sinchu Alagie village in West Coast region, the old woman was returning home after paying a visit to her son, a convict who is being jailed at the country’s main prison in Banjul when the military man whose identify is yet to be disclosed ran over her. She died on spot, our sources said.
However, both the Gambia’s minister for Justice and the police spokesperson of The Gambia Police Force said, they are unaware of the tragic incident.
“I am not aware of it. I did not know any details. I can only know if the matter finds itself in the Justice ministry,” Justice Minister Edu Gomez told journalists at his office in Banjul on Tuesday.
He added: “We have nothing to hide. Only evil people do hide. We are open and people should not have feeling that we are autocratic.”
The spokesperson of The Gambia Armed Forces was unavailable for comment as he was said to be attending a training programme at Fajara army barracks.
The director of NGO Affairs, who had asked journalists to return yesterday when they first called on him was also said to be attending a meeting at the president’s office.
However, a senior Gambian lawyer Antoumana Gaye told The Daily News that, the imam of State House, Abdoulie Fatty, Imam Ratib of Banjul and two other military officers have paid condolence to the deceased’s family.
“Late Mariama is a relative [of mine] and the family thinks that it is too early to discuss the issue, but we are not going to negotiate the matter,” said lawyer Gaye.

Police Spokesperson Declines to Attend Online Journalist


Journalist John
Gambia police spokesperson yesterday refused to attend Mr Abdoulie John, a Gambian journalist working for U.S based news agency, Associated Press (AP).
“Go and seek clearance [from Inspector General of Police]. I don’t talk to those papers, because they are outside the country,” police spokesperson Yorro Mballow told Mr John, who also reports for Jollof News, a Gambian online news agency.
Mr John was investigating the death of Mariama Ann, a retired cleaner at the department of NGO affairs. The woman was allegedly knocked down to death by a military officer.
“I do my job with responsibility. When president Jammeh received the media at State House, he [Jammeh] never said that,” John told the police spokesperson, who insisted however that he cannot clarify any issue to the online journalist without clearance from the police IG.
“I have been getting information from the former police spokesperson, Sulayman Secka, but I was never asked to get any form of clearance,” Mr John, who views the action of spokesperson Mballow as an attack on press freedom told The Daily News.

Journalist Sanneh Believes His Wife, If Alive, Would Help

Journalist Sanneh
 Journalist Dodou Sanneh, a former staff of Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), who is facing trial on a charge of false information, believes that his wife could have been supportive to him in his saga.
“My wife knew everything that transpired between me and GRTS,” Mr Sanneh told the magistrates’ court in Banjul on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, the wife is no more. She died in 2009.
The TV reporter had his services terminated by the public media in 2006. No reason was stated in his termination letter, but according to GRTS boss and a senior staff, Mr Sanneh was dismissed for ‘bias reportage’ when he was assigned to cover a mass political rally of main opposition-United Democratic Party (UDP) in the run up to the presidential election in 2006.
Sanneh however said his dismissal was wrongful. He was put under trial when he petitioned his former employer to the president’s office on that claim. But he denied any wrongdoing.
Three witnesses have testified for the state, but Mr Sanneh has only his niece to add weight  to his side of the story in the court.
When asked by the magistrate whether he has any other witness, he said, his wife could have been his witness, but she is dead and his former co workers are not cooperative.
“Some GRTS staff, who can help me produce evidences are not willing to come to court,” Mr Sanneh testified. And he even fears that his former co workers could turn out to be hostile witnesses.
“The office of the Ombudsman said the law does not allow them to come to court,” he went on to tell the court following which the magistrate ordered the ombudsman to make himself or any representative available during next sittings.
She also made an order for the accused person’s promotion letter as senior producer be produced by GRTS by next proceedings scheduled for September 5.
Testifying earlier was Nyima Drammeh, a niece to Dodou Sanneh, who told the court that his uncle, Mr Sanneh was arrested and detained for seven days when he was called to return to the office whilst he was on assignment in the North Bank of The Gambia.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dr Touray: I Declined To Be Corrupted by the Spanish Woman

A theft suspect Dr Isatou Touray, the executive director of Gamcotrap, a prominent women’s rights advocacy organisation in The Gambia on Thursday ended her testimony amid startling revelations.
Dr Touray and Amie Bojang-Sissoho, programme officer at Gamcotrap are facing trial at the magistrates’ court in Banjul, the capital, on allegations of stealing 30, 000.00 euros from a Spanish NGO, Yolacamba.
Both pleaded not guilty.
In her testimony, which started some weeks ago, Dr Touray informed the court how her organisation entered into contract with the Spanish NGO.
She said, the funds they are alleged to have stolen were used as earmarked – to scale up campaign to eliminate the deep-seated cultural practice of female genital mutilation in The  Gambia.
When Begona Ballesteros Sanchez, the director of the Spanish NGO came into  The Gambia to visit project sites, Gamcotrap wrote a report on the monitoring and agreed on the dates of the dropping of the knives ceremonies and a public declaration by 36 circumcisers.