By Modou S. Joof & Demba Kandeh
FPI has gathered that three staffers of the Daily Observer, Gambia’s biggest newspaper, were arrested and detained by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) last week.
The three are Alhagie Jobe, Editor-In-Chief, Assan Sallah, a news editor and Madikhan Jobarteh, who works at the production department of the paper.
Mr Jobe and Mr Jobarteh were reportedly arrested by the NIA on Thursday 7 February 2013. Whereas Jobarteh was released on bail later the same day but Jobe is still believed to be held at the NIA headquarters in Banjul. A source told FPI “no conditions are attached to Jobarteh’s release”.
A source at the paper told FPI Jobe’s arrest and detention is in “connection with attempting to facilitate asylum” for an unnamed person. However, FPI could not independently verify the information and virtually no information is coming out from the authorities.
The source added that Mr Sallah’s arrest is in connection with Jobe’s arrest. Sallah was picked up from work on Monday February 11 2013 and detained overnight before he was released on bail Tuesday evening. Mr Sallah was asked to report to the NIA on Wednesday.
Asked to confirm the trio’s arrest, the spokesperson of The Gambia Police Force Assistant Superintendent David Kujabi told a local newspaper: “I wouldn’t know, I have been away for a week.”
A source close to NIA told FPI that there are no serious evidence against Sallah after going through all his emails. The source said: “We are still investigating but I can tell you that Assan is clean at the moment. But the allegations against him are grave and damaging.
“As you can see am currently inside the Ferry coming from Dakar. In fact, it is news to me; you are the first to let me know about that. I haven’t reached my office yet, may be later (sic),” he told The Voice newspaper.
Last month three senior staff members of the paper were questioned in relation to alleged financial misappropriation at the Observer Company, the publisher of the Daily Observer newspaper.
Assan Sallah was the President of the Young Journalists’ Association of The Gambia (YJAG) from September 2009 to September 2011. During the period, YJAG had series of meeting with senior government officials and ministers, including the Vice President and Minister for Women Affairs, Isatou Njie-Saidy.