Thursday, September 10, 2015

FREE ALHAGIE ABDOULIE CEESAY: The radio journalist is currently being tortured while in custody

Teranga FM Radio MD, Abdoulie Ceesay
Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay, the proprietor and General Manager of Teranga FM community radio, who is currently on trial is being tortured while he is on remand, sources close to the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) have confirmed.

His lawyer has also informed the court of the fact that her client  has been the subject of torture.

The ordeal of Mr. Ceesay started on New Year's Day this year when agents of the NIA arrested him and held him in their custody.  He was held for eleven days, tortured and then dumped near the Banjul International Airport.  This was just the beginning of an ordeal of this young man whose only crime, despite the charges later framed by the regime, was that he was broadcasting the local news in the local languages to an audience made up of largely people who do neither speak nor understand English.

The regime's poor human rights and macro-economic management fronts have forced it to resort to concealing its record from ordinary Gambians.  It is for this reason that the radio station was forced to close but the police did not provide any reason for the closure.  Mr. Ceesay resumed broadcasting three days later and started playing music as directed by the authorities.  However, he resumed his normal new programming which may have been the reason for his rearrest on the 17th of July and subsequently arraigned in court.

The radio station has been closed three times in the five years of existence which is consistent with the pattern of harassment and intimidation of Gambian journalists in exercising their constitutional rights, as Peter Nkanga, CPJ's West Africa representative was quoted as saying "Gambian security agents have long stoked a climate of fear for journalists working in the country."

The radio manager's ordeal has been aptly described in The Standard newspaper that is associated with the Gambian Minister of Communication as "an avalanche of woes" that has befallen the radio journalist, "accused of distributing pictures of President Yahya Jammeh showing a gun pointed at him (the president) appeared unceasing"- a charge vigorously contested by Mr. Ceesay's defense attorney, Mrs. Combe Gaye Coker, who argued before High Court Judge Mohammed Balarabe in connection with her third attempt to secure bail approval for her client.  Her point being that Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay "had not broadcast anything either on television or on radio" and as far as she is aware there is no "law that stops the accused repeating the application for bail."

The accused is alleged to have transmitted these photos over cell phones to two women "protocol officers" who are essentially agents of the NIA.  It is rather preposterous for the accused to transmit such photos to NIA agents after he has been severely tortured during his first arrest.  Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay's case, like so many other cases involving journalists before it, makes no sense whatsoever.  He should be released immediately and unconditionally so as to resume with the business of informing the general public about the state of State.