Journalist Baboucarr Ceesay Detained and released by NIA Officials

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Babucarr-Ceesay-144x161Baboucarr Ceesay, the 1st Vice President of Gambia Press Union (GPU) has constantly been under the spyglass of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) since 13 Wednesday, February 2013, for reasons only known to them . He has been told about several strange visitors at his house in Tallinding who asked his family about his whereabouts.

It was after 12.00 P.M Friday, March 8th that he left his home accompanied by his younger brother to do some transaction at a Western Union complex near Roland Clinic at Churchill’s Town, then to proceed to the office of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) in Fajara.

After the transaction, he stopped a taxi and embarked on it opposite Roland Clinic. As the taxi drove for few metres, a man stopped the taxi and joined him at the back seat where he sat alone with a lady sitting at the front near the driver. The guy identified himself as an NIA officer from the Office of the President with a photocopied warrant card and said he needed Baboucarr. He told the man that the identity card he showed was a photocopied document, but the man insisted that he is an operative, then Ceesay decided to disembark from the vehicle to let the driver go.

The operative told Journalist Ceesay that he was under arrest. But when Baboucarr wanted to use his mobile phone to call his colleagues and family, the NIA officer interrupted and called a driver in a white double cabin pick-up vehicle without a registration that rushed and parked in front of the journalists to whisk him away.

When Ceesay insisted that he must make calls to inform his family and colleagues of his arrest by NIA officers the guy and two other officers insisted that the journalist must first join their vehicle before he can allow him to make any calls. Ceesay also insisted that if he won’t call then he must talk to some one at a nearby shop who will inform his family about what had happened. When the officers refused to honour Ceesay’s request he also refused to get into the car until the man he wanted to inform came, and informed him about his arrest by the NIA officers and then he decided to join the vehicle.

Baboucarr was driven to the NIA headquarters in Banjul and arrived there around 1.45PM. He was taken to a room where a search was conducted on him and his bags. He was later taken to a cell where he got detained for three days until his release on Monday March 11, 2013 around 6.00PM.”

Ceesay was released on self-bail and his passport is currently with the NIA. Baboucarr was not told exactly what crime he has committed or the reasons for his detention. Apart from been told that he was a suspect under investigation, Baboucarr was not given any date to be reporting, as the NIA said the case is being investigated.

Readers may recalled that Baboucarr alongside his colleague Abubacarr Saidykhan were arrested and charged with attempt to incite mass protest when they applied for a permit to demonstrate after the nine prisoners were executed in Gambia sometimes last year. They were however subsequently released and all charges were dropped by the government. Both Journalists continued to receive threats until Abubacarr Saidykhan fled the country to the neighboring Senegal. Since then the threats of abduction and arrest has continued on Baboucarr Ceesay who is the 1st Vice President of the Gambia Press Union.

The Government of President Jammeh and his National Security Agency has constantly crack down on indepdendent journalists for doing their work. Many Gambian journalists have been victimized and several fled the country and are operating in exile. One can only perceive that Baboucarr’s numerous arrest and detention could be another attempt to force the independent journalist to flee the country as many of his colleagues did. This is a continuous attempt to silence the independent media in Gambia. International media houses and rights groups are constantly keeping an eye on this government for its intolerance towards the media.

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