There has been yet another breakthrough in the search for the whereabouts of a missing Gambian journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh: he was spotted at the main referral hospital in the capital Banjul, thanks to sources close to the Accra-based Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
Manneh, who works for the pro-government ‘Daily Observer’ newspaper until his arrest by the officers of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on 11 July 2006, was seen at a private ward in Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital four days ago where he has been hospitalised for treatment of high blood pressure.
Looking weak, Manneh was escorted by officers of prison and police intervention unit to RVTH‘s Gamtel Ward before being quickly transferred to an undisclosed military clinic in Banjul - purposely to cover any possible trace of him.
Since his arrest a week after the African Union Summit ended in the West African country, the top crime reporter has been first detained at Mile II Central Prisons, about two km from Banjul before being transferred from police cells to another in the country.
“At a point in time, he was said to have been kept at a military post in Kanilai, the president's home village and Fatoto Police Station which is the last major town of the country,” MFWA officials said.
Both the police and the NIA have continuously denied arresting Mr Manneh whose purported crime was to share “damaging state information” to a foreign correspondent covering the Banjul AU Summit.
After several mountains local and internation protests have failed to remedy the situation, the MWFA thought it fitting to file a case against The Gambia government at the ECOWAS Community Court for continuously violating the detained journalist’s rights. However, the government decided to snub the court’s first sittings on 16 July. The case continues on 26 September.
Over the years, The Gambia government has become notorious for its continuous crackdown on journalists and rights activists.
Instead of investigating the 16 December 2004 gruesome of a leading newspaper editor, Deyda Hydara of 'The Point' newspaper, the government continues to use security arms to arrest, detain, torture, abritrarily close down or fire bomb journalists and their institutions.
Consequently, most journalists have either been cowered down or fled into exile. Few weeks back, another Gambian journalist, Momodou Lamin Jaiteh, went hiding after he had become a target of security harassment. He was accused of being the correspondent for the MWFA - a credible voice of media repressions in The Gambia.
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