Gov’t Spokesman Clarifies Statement On APRC ‘Attack On Journalists’
The spokesman of The Gambia Government Ebrima G Sankareh yesterday came up with an explanation of how his press release condemning the APRC supporters’ alleged attack on the media left out the assault on a cameraman from The Fatu Network.
The matter attracted criticism from the Network. When The Standard contacted him, Mr Sankareh gave the following explanation:
“It was around noon Tuesday when the publisher of The Point Newspaper, Pap Saine, walked into my office to pay a courtesy call. After the normal exchanges, I walked him into Aisha Davies’ office.
Davies is Director of Information Services with whom both Saine and I had a long-standing collegial relationship dating decades.
Soon after we walked into Davies’ office, Attorney General (AG) Baa Tambadou called to discuss the press release refuting allegations of The Gambia Government’s negotiations for the former President’s return.
After I conferred with the AG, Mr Saine told us that he had received complaints that RFI’s Banjul correspondent, Romain Chanson, was allegedly assaulted by an angry APRC mob and that in fact, RFI had reported the incident in their breakfast programme. I told both Saine and Davies that that was not acceptable and I’d want to incorporate the matter in my press release.
I then called AG Tambadou again and told him of the worrisome development and my intentions to address it in my APRC rebuttal.
I also called Information minister, Ebrima Sillah of the alleged incident.
Both ministers expressed similar sentiments and concurred with my position. Soon after we hung up, I proceeded to pen the press release.
Curiously, after the release was aired on Radio Gambia, Mustapha Mbaye of Radio Gambia called me and asked if I were aware that a local journalist for the Fatou Network was also assaulted by the same mob.
I told him that I was hearing it for the first time but my press release had condemned the assault in toto as a flagrant violation of press freedom and covers every journalist.
I also assured Mbaye that if I appear in his subsequent show–“Gambia Today”, we should equally condemn the other reporter’s plight and say how equally appalling it was to assault him.
I can assure you that until I dispatched my press release neither me nor the personalities I referenced knew of the cowardly attack on the Network.”