Saturday, June 4, 2011

Media Watch…

BB Baldeh, WCR
Gambia UPDATE: Court exonerates sports presenter in criminal suit
The Kanifing District Magistrate Court on May 24, 2011 exonerated Bakary B. Baldeh, a sports producer and presenter of West Coast Radio, a privately-owned FM station, on a criminal charge allegedly brought against him and four others, by Ebrima Jawara, president of the Gambia Golfers Association, and the son of former President, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.
The other accused persons, all golf workers, had been charged with “conspiracy to commit felony”. Earlier, the court had dismissed another charge of “conspiracy to incite violence”.
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s sources reported that the court decision followed an application to that effect by their counsels on the ground that the charge of “conspiracy to commit felony” preferred against them, was not known in law.
However, three of the accused persons will still appear before the court on another criminal charge relating to breach of the country’s peace.
They were arraigned before the court on March 25 after being detained for three days at Kairaba police station. Their arrest and subsequent detention was after Baldeh had hosted on his radio programme two of the golf workers, who had accused Jawara, of unfair treatment during the Baby Mariama Yayha Jammeh Golf Competition in February. The tournament was sponsored by President Yahya Jammeh in honour of his daughter.  According to the state prosecutor, the accused persons had “jointly and unlawfully made statements through the West Coast Radio” to incite people to boycott the tournament.
On 25 March, the pro-government Banjul-based The Daily Observer newspaper twisted the facts of the case by erroneously reporting on its website that Baldeh and the  rest were being tried as a result of an alleged complaint filed by Jawara, who earlier testified as a prosecution witness. However, MFWA sources in the Gambia said that that was not the case and that Jawara had denied that he initiated the action. Source: MFWA -
May 28, 2011.

Ghana ALERT: Four lawyers blacklisted over judicial corruption allegations
Four Accra-based lawyers have been hauled before the General Legal Council, the regulatory authority for the legal profession in Ghana, by the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJ) to substantiate corruption allegations they made against some judges in the country. 
The four, Dr Raymond Atuguba, David Annan, Abraham Amaliba and Larry Bimi, at a recent round table discussion on the Judiciary to herald the Constitution Week of the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), gave credence to several research findings which claimed the judiciary was one of the most corrupt institutions in the country. The allegations received a lot of media attention.
In a communiqué issued on May 13, 2011 and signed by all the 25 member executive council, the AMJ resolved that: “until this matter has been satisfactorily resolved, Judges and Magistrates also reserve the right to recuse themselves from hearing cases in which any of these lawyers appear, since Dr. Raymond Atuguba has declared to the world at large that: ‘there is nobody in the country who can convince me that judges do not take bribes’ ”.  “The same holds good for the other lawyers who hold similar views as Dr. Raymond Atuguba”, the communiqué added.
Even before the council begins hearing the case, the AMJ has begun boycotting cases involving the four lawyers. The Supreme Court on May 19 refused to hear a case brought against a Member of Parliament in which, Dr. Atuguba, who is the Executive Secretary of the Constitution Review Commission, is counsel.
However, all the four blacklisted lawyers have rejected the position of the AMJ.
In an interview with an Accra-based independent Joy FM radio station, Bimi, who is the chairman of the NCCE, said: “they are trying to cow us and we should not allow that to happen because the moment we cannot criticize our judiciary then our freedom and justice as contained in our preamble [of the 1992 Constitution] will be gone and when these things are gone, our democracy is in danger.”
Bimi said there was no justification for the Judges and Magistrates Association to refer him and his colleagues to the General Legal Council because “we didn't mention any particular judge; we didn't mention any particular official or person.” he stated. Source: MFWA -
May 23, 2011.

Liberia ALERT: Police detain radio journalist, reportedly attack him
Franklin Doloque, a correspondent of Truth FM, a privately-owned Monrovia-based radio station, was on May 12, 2011 arrested and detained by the police in Nimba, a county in the north-central part of Liberia, for four hours for allegedly challenging the police.
Before his detention at the Ganta Police Station, Doloque was also allegedly assaulted by the police officers.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent reported that Doloque met his ordeal at J. W. Pearson Public School, one of the centres for the ongoing West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations in the country.
The MFWA correspondent said the reporter had gone to inquire about pregnant candidates at the school who had been denied the opportunity to write the exams against a directive by the country’s educational authorities for female pregnant students to write the exams.  
According to Doloque, he was made to apologise by writing an apology letter to the police officer on duty before being released.
When MFWA’s correspondent contacted the police, they confirmed detaining the reporter for arguing with a police officer, but denied assaulting him.
In another development, armed robbers on the night of May 12 broke into the offices of privately owned Informer newspaper and made away with three computers and a television set.
Although investigations are yet to be completed, the management of the newspaper suspects sabotage. D. Kaiheneh Sengbe, the managing editor of the newspaper, wondered why the attackers singled out the Informer’s office for attack in a building complex housing ten other offices. Source: MFWA - May 18, 2011.

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