The Presidential Hajj Package Scandal Saga Journalist, Rice Grower Detained

Monday, January 09, 2012
Gambian police Friday 6 January arrested and briefly detained a reporter of The Daily News, a privately-owned Gambian newspaper and a woman rice grower.
Journalist Momodou S Jallow and Boto Fatajo of Saruja village in the provincial-Central River region of The Gambia were released on bail after spending about 5 hours behind bars at Bansang police station, where they were taken for interrogations, shortly after their arrest by Brikamaba police.
The duo’s arrest came following this paper’s Wednesday 4 January front page story that unraveled Lower Fulladu district headman’s alleged extra-marital scandal.
Headlined: ‘Presidential Hajj Package Scandal; Chief Baldeh Allegedly Bribes Lover,’ the story alleges Chief Mamadou Lamin Baldeh of bribing his alleged lover by awarding to her president Jammeh sponsored hajj package purportedly meant for Boto Fatajo, chief’s accuser.
The allegations, which Chief Baldeh dismissed as untrue came in the wake of yet another postponement of the annual general meeting of the CRR Rice Farmers Cooperative Society, whose under-fire executive Chief Baldeh is said to be a prominent member.
Journalist Jallow and the rice grower were arrested at Brikamaba police post at 3:00pm and taken to Bansang police station where they were detained, interrogated and released on bail at 8:00 pm. A family relative serves as the surety.
charges have been preferred against the Journalist Jallow but the details are not clear yet. For the woman, efforts are underway to settle the matter out of court, this paper has gathered.
Meanwhile, Gambian journalists are operating under a hostile media environment characterised by anti-media freedom laws, tortures, arrests and detentions, prosecution under draconian laws and violent attacks against media outfits and practitioners.
Seven years on, there lingers an unresolved case of the murder of a prominent editor and publisher, Deyda Hydara, Journalist Omar Barrow as well as the disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh, a senior reporter of
Author: Saikou Ceesay

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