By Alieu Badara Sowe,UK

It beggars belief that the National Intelligence Agency of The Gambia have decided to level charges against Journalist Fatou Jaw Manneh.  One wonders what they intend to gain out of this whole episode apart from exposing their ineptitude in determining what issues relate to national security and what is a police matter.  The charges prefered against the the dignified Gambian journalist and advocate of democracy are nothing more than empty, trumped up allegations without merit.

It is hard to pinpoint what Ms Jaw-Manneh has published that is false or “likely to cause fear and alarm to the public.” It is difficult to understand why the NIA need to deal with the case, in the first place.  This is not the first time that the government of Yahya Jammeh has used such tactics as part of its arsenal of repressive measures to gag the press.  Back in 1995, Pap Saine, Brima Ernest and myself were charged with the same offence.  After about six months of trial, the court presided over by the uncoruptible magistrate Christopher Onyia decided to acquit and discharge us after finding that our side of the story was the truth.  But even as Onyia was deliberating on the ruling, there were persistent calls purportedly from State House trying to instruct him to lock us up. Onyia had to leave his seat twice to answer to the phone but stuck to his guns!
Like many of Ms Jaw-Manneh’s colleagues, I shall be monitoring the situation closely, and whoever is chosen to preside over the case should remember that the whole world’s eyes are on him. He should remember that the executive arm of governments come and go but the press and the legal profession are here to stay.  The magistrate should ensure that justice is not just done but seen to be done for the sake of not just his integrity but also for that of The Gambian judiciary.
Posted on Thursday, April 05, 2007 (Archive on Tuesday, April 24, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI

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