Breaking News:This court lacks jurisdiction -Lawyer Jobarteh argues! NIA seizes Fatou Jaw Manneh’s travelling documents!

Fatou Jaw Manneh pleads not guilty!

By Landing Badjie,Our National Correspondent

The relationship between the government of The Gambia and the country’s independent media is far from cozy. The water and oil relations between country’s 1st and 4th estates is so pervasive that Gambian journalists see themselves as practicing in a hostile and dangerous environment. A journalist and a pro-democracy activist, Ms. Fatou Jaw Manneh, was this afternoon arraigned at a magistrates’ court in the Serekunda suburb of Kanifing where she was charged with three counts of publishing an incendiary material, publishing a seditious material and writing an article that could cause alarm to the greater public. She was accused of granting an interview contained in a publication dated 23 October 2005, consisting of the following words which include: “Betrayal” .Jammeh is tearing our beloved country into shreds. He debunked our hopes and became a thorn in any issue that relates to progress in The Gambia, be it social, political and economic. Worst of all, he is a bundle of terror. There is a need, therefore, to speak out against his tendencies which are inimical to progress. If you look around the Gambia, particularly at the condition people live in, you will see what I mean and Gambians are desperately in need of an alternative to the egoistic frosty Imam of APRC,Jammeh. He is full of energy but very negative energy and he totally lack direction. All he need is to come clear to the Gambian people that he has failed us all miserably that he will be doing everything to revitalise his promise to the Gambian people.Excuse his ten years in office rather than forcing us to like him or forcing us to believe development that do not exist”. Ms. Manneh was said to have committed the alleged offences between 2005 and 2007 whilst resident in the U.S.

She was arrested Wednesday of last week at the Banjul International Airport on her arrival from the U.S to pay a visit to her family after a 10-year absence from home. Dressed in a long navy blue skirt and a blue shirt, Ms. Manneh was outwardly confident and serene as she could be seen hugging and patting relatives and loved ones on the back. Her vivacity and glamour have effaced the gloomy spirit that besieged the minds and hearts of her sympathizers, including politicians, journalists, right activists and some members of the business community that thronged the courtroom. She pleaded ‘not guilty’ to all the three-count charges preferred against her.

Earlier on, her lawyer has eloquently argued that the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court is not a competent court to hear the case as it lacks the jurisdiction to do so. According to Lawyer Jobarteh, assuming but not conceiving that his client did commit any offence outside the perimeter of The Gambia, she should be tried in that particular jurisdiction and not the otherwise. He pointed out to the court that it was about time her client be given the opportunity to gain her liberty in the meantime as she needed to shake off the fatigue from her long journey from the U.S.

Ms. Manneh was thus granted bail in the sum of D25,000 with a Gambian surety who must meet the bail conditions. She was also ordered to surrender all her travelling documents to the court unless if it’s proven that they are in the custody of the State. But according to Ms Manneh’s counsel, his client’s travelling documents have all been seized by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) following her arrest and subsequent detention at the NIA Headquarters in Banjul. She is expected back in court on Wednesday,11 April 2007. Our National Correspondent Landing Badjie has been assigned to cover the entire proceedings of Fatou Jaw Manneh’s trial. Stay tuned.

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Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 (Archive on Tuesday, May 29, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI Contributed by PNMBAI
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