- The Gambia government has been sued once again at the Community Court of the Economic Committee of West Africa States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria over the "illegal detention and torture" of the former Editor-In-Chief of the banned bi-weekly newspaper 'The Independent', Musa Saidykhan.
The case is the second to be filed by the Accra-based Media Foundation for West Africa at the sub-regional court.
The twice award-winning journalist was among scores of victims who were illegally detained and suffered all manner of cruelty, including torture at the hands of President Yahya Jammeh's gorillas [security agents] in the aftermath of an alleged foiled coup on 21 March 2006.
“I was stripped naked while live-electric shocks were administered on all over my body including my genitals. I was told by my torturers that electric shocks on my genitals were meant to make me impotent,” Saidykhan recalled.
Gambian security agents used the foiled coup to crack down on the government's perceived enemies who include critically-minded journalists, politicians and human rights lawyers. These people had become victims of state agent's cruel attacks.
Apart from raiding the offices of 'The Independent', security agents went ahead to briefly detain the paper's entire staff and visitors. This was after the mid-night arrest of Saidykhan in his home. He was held at the most-feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul.
Being detained incommunicado for 22 days without charge or trial, Musa was heavily tortured by soldiers from the President's office to the extent that he fell unconscious. The gorillas had left legacies of late night torture [physical scars] on his arms, legs, back and his right hand which was thrice disjointed. He still lives with the horrors of tortures.
Even after his release Musa could not breathe an air of freedom. He was forced to flee a country whose government has no regards for human rights - a complete deviation from its past.
'The Independent' that has had a lot of rough roads with the Jammeh regime is still nailed, with armed security officers using its premises as their base.
Gambian journalists continue to become victims of arbitrary arrest and detention without trial for long periods. One of the victims was Chief Ebrima Manneh, a reporter of a pro-government newspaper, 'Daily Observer' who is still languishing in detention since his arrest in July 2006.
The government denied holding him, despite being arrested by security agents at his office in Bakau, 10km from the capital Banjul.
Consequently, the government was dragged to the Abuja court by the MFWA to produce Manneh. However, it had deliberately failed to appear in court and did not bother to explain either.
But that would not stop the court from proceeding with Manneh's case. And after a submission by his team of lawyers led by Femi Falan, Manneh's case is set for judgment on 31 January.
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