Friday, June 10, 2011


1.      Gambia ALERT: Dismissed State TV journalist arrested, charged for false information
2.     MFWA praises President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the FOI into law
3.     Cote d’ Ivoire ALERT: Pro-Gbagbo journalist kidnapped, released
4. Liberia ALERT: Police detain radio journalist, reportedly attack him 

MFWA praises President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the FOI into law
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has praised Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan for signing into law the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill.
On May 28, 2011 President Jonathan reportedly signed the Bill in less than twenty-four hours that it was sent to him.
“This action by President Jonathan is a positive step towards the entrenchment of democratic culture in Nigeria and has also given meaning to decade of activism and lobbying by Nigerian free expressions organizations,” the Accra-based media watchdog said on June 6. 
“The objective of the act is to make public records and information more freely available and to also protect public records and information to the extent that they are consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy,” a statement from the presidency said.
The statement adds that “Freedom of Information Act also seeks to protect serving public officers from any adverse consequences of disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorization and to establish procedures for the achievement of these purposes."
On Monday, MFWA said it welcomes the emerging trend in West Africa towards new laws which recognize the universal right to publicly held information.
In 2010, Liberia’s President signed into law the Freedom of Information Bill. Her move also received applauds from the Sub-region’s leading media watchdog, the MFWA.
“We urge progressive leaders such as President Jonathan and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to ensure that these laws are translated into actions,” MFWA concluded.

Gambia ALERT: Dismissed State TV journalist arrested, charged for false information
A journalist, who petitioned President Yahya Jammeh over his wrongful dismissal from the government controlled state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Services(GRTS) five years ago, was on  March 16, 2011arrested and detained  by the  Gambian  police over his petition. 
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s sources reported that Dodou Sanneh was illegally detained for three days at the police headquarters in Banjul, the capital.  On May 16, 2011, he was arraigned before the Banjul Magistrates’ Court presided over by Manyima Bojang and charged with “giving false information to a public officer”. 
The case had since been adjourned on two occasions and will reappear on June 6.
In 2006 Sanneh was dismissed from the GRTS over an alleged biased reporting  after covering the election campaigns of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), the National Reconciliation Party (NRP), and the Gambia People's Democratic Party Alliance.
The sources said, Sanneh prior to his petitioning President Jammeh on March 7, 2011, had pursued his case at the office of the country’s Ombudsman for four years without success.
This is not the first time Sanneh has been arrested. On September 8, 2006, he was arrested and detained at a secret location by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) over this same issue.
Sanneh was later released and relieved of his duties. He was later reinstated, but on November 20, 2006 he was again dismissed by the management, which offered no explanation.

Cote d’ Ivoire ALERT: Pro-Gbagbo journalist kidnapped, released

Serge Grah, a journalist and a contributor to pro-Gbagbo ‘Le Temps  newspaper was on June 4, 2011 abducted by six armed men believed  to be elements of the Cote d’Ivoire Republican Forces (FRCI), loyal to Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent reported that the elements of FRCI kidnapped Grah at about 7:30 GMT at his home in Youpogon, the largest suburb in Abidjan, the economic capital and a stronghold of former President Laurent Gbagbo.
The journalist was released on the same day. Grah recently authored a book: “La misère de nos comportements”, a collection of opinion pieces which violently attacked President Ouattara, France, and the United Nations.
“I was not manhandled. They took away my computer. They closely examined my telephone address book. Even though they did not find anything incriminating, they drove me to the Locodjro commando camp. Once we got to the military camp, I was grilled for several hours and then detained in an office. They freed me in the evening and gave me back all the items they took from me,” said the journalist in a telephone conversation. Since Ex- President Gbagbo was deposed on April 11, most of the perceived and real supporters of him have suffered several attacks.
On May 25, personnel director of the company that publishes Le Temps newspaper was freed on the evening of May 24 after being arrested in the morning by forces loyal to President Ouattara. The body of Lago Sylvain Gagneto, Assistant Editor-in-Chief was found among dozens of bodies buried in mass graves in Yopougon.

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 

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