It’s seems that wonders will never cease! It’s clear there are strange happenings in Gambia these days!

It’s been reported by Gambian online news media that police were sent, over the weekend, to the house of an official of the APRC-No Alliance Movement to stop the holding of press conference there.

“Police break up press conference by sympathizers of the former president…” is one such headline.

The videos we have seen are of paramilitary police in riot gear – hope they were not armed as well – talking and jostling with agitated people.

And, just imagine – the police reportedly went into the man’s private premises, where he called a press conference, arrested and took him away to a police station where he was detained.

You may want to ask – what crime did the man commit? Is there a case here for a complaint of trespass, assault etc?

In a country where we cherish the rule of law, we hope the Gambian state authorities will come forward and tell us.

In any case, there is no doubt that this latest development is gravely troubling, and has serious implications for national peace; and, in fact, national security.

For what we now see is the Gambian state again blundering big time by getting involved and taking sides in a purely intra-APRC dispute.

It’s about the Gambian police being used to persecute the followers of the ex-president, simply for speaking out against the so-called NPP-APRC alliance being promoted by President Adama Barrow.

And, of course, their have been immediate condemnation of the monstrous illegality, as well as expressions of outrage – and rightly so – by politicians, civil society activists and human rights defenders.

“The fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in the chapter (Chapter IV of the 2997 Constitution) shall be respected and upheld by all organs of the Executive and its agencies…”

Definitely, the police action amounted to the suppression of freedom of speech / freedom of expression contrary to the Gambian constitution; and, hindering or obstructing the freedom of the press.

No doubt, in the context of the controversy around the NPP-APRC marriage of convenience, scuttling the news conference was a blatant attempt to stop the APRC-M from responding to the APRC of FTJ and co. who earlier held a press conference.

So, in addition to the violation of their rights to freedom of speech, conscience, assembly, association and movement (section 25 of the constitution), is there a case for a complaint of discrimination (section 33)?

Moreover, disrupting the newsworthy event was tantamount to interfering with the freedom of the press, since the reporters attending were blocked from hearing from the APRC dissidents, and prevented from doing their job of informing and enlightening the people on a matter of public interest.

Indeed, unconscionable developments in Gambia, with the state helping to suppress free speech!

So we say, let enlightenment prevail!

“An enlightened citizenry; informed and critical public opinion is vital…Without an informed and free press there cannot be an enlightened people” – US Supreme Court in its historic Pentagon Papers decision.

In an much as we want to see the former ruling party, APRC, proscribed; and, whereas we are strong advocates of Jammeh2Justice, it is also our aspiration to maintain rule of law in our beloved country.

Thus we believe that all actions regarding the fugitive and his supporters must follow due process.

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Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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