Assistant Superintend of Police, Mr. Manneh who stood in for senior prosecutor Superintend Sainey Joof, has told the Banjul Magistrate Court that efforts are ongoing to ensure Gambian journalist Nanama Keita appear in court.
The former Sports Editor of the pro-government newspaper, the Daily Observer failed to appear in court for the second time in an ongoing “false information” trial against him.
He has denied any wrong doing since June. On September 12, the lower Court ordered his arrest after he failed to appear in court for the first time.
Meanwhile, Mr Keita has written to West Africa’s leading media freedom and free expression watchdog, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), saying he fled The Gambia in “fear for his life.”
When the case resumes on Monday, September 26, ASP Manneh told the Court presided by Magistrate Sheriff S. Tabally that he has been ordered by Prosecutor Joof to apply for an adjournment. “Joof informed me that all efforts are underway in securing the attendance of Nanama Keita. In that respect, we are asking the court for a fortnight adjournment,” he said.
Defence Counsel Neneh Cham did not object to the application. The case resumes on 10th October, 2011.
Mr. Keita was grant bail by the court in the sum of D100, 000. His trial emanates from a petition he wrote in May to the Office of the President in the capital, Banjul claiming for wrongful dismissal as Deputy Editor-In-Chief and Head of Sport Desk of the Daily Observer and alleged financial malpractices at the company.
Mr Keita is currently in the United States of America, where he and 13 young journalists from around the world are attending the “2011 United Nations Reham al-Farra (RAF) Memorial Journalists Fellowship Programme” which began on September 12 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The fellowship will last six weeks.
Earlier reports have it that Mr Keita has received constant anonymouse “death threat” text messages on his mobile phone. In a letter to MFWA, Mr Keita alleges that he fled “after serious attempts by the Gambia security agents to effect my arrest and possibly harm me.”
“However, instead of launching an investigating into my claims, after my petition, I found myself behind bars for more than 24 hours before being slapped with the bogus “false information” charge,” he said. “As if that was not enough, I persistently continued to receive life threatening text messages from unknown numbers, telling me to either leave the country or be taught a lesson I may not live to narrate.”
A member of the Gambia Press Union Executive Committee stood surety for Mr Keita when he was granted a court bail of D100, 000 (more than US$3703). However, he wrote: “I understand, some members of the Gambia Press Union felt a bit disappointed with my unceremonious exit, but they failed to understand that fleeing the country was the only option I had if I really wanted to stay alive and safe.”
Author: Modou S. Joof for The Voice Newspaper