The former editor of The Independent newspaper, Musa Saidykhan, has Wednesday highlighted the way the previous regime systematically targeted the news outlet in an effort to muzzle the media. A pattern that began the very first days when The Independent hit the newsstands and started challenging the status quo.
“The Independent has a history of persecution in the hands of Yahya Jammeh’s gov’t,” he said.
In his testimony to the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC), Musa Saidykhan revealed that his predecessor Abdoulie Sey was forced to quit his job and went to exile after suffering a lot in the hands of Yahya Jammeh’s agents. A situation that prompted the proprietors to hire him for the top post.
Journalists have been lining up to take the stand at the ongoing Six Session of the TRRC. Their testimonies continue to unveil disturbing trends in the illegal attacks against the media.
“If The Independent was allowed to sink at that time, it was going to be a big blow to the fight against dictatorship,” he said.
The erstwhile editor of The Independent, who is the brain behind the news site Kaironews.com, took the opportunity to go through the history of the newspaper punctuated by arbitrary arrests, constant harassment, arson attack that destroyed their newly acquired printed press…
In May 2005, he went on, when gov’t became aware that the Daily Observer was printing The Independent, they decided to stop it.
“We went to all the private printing companies, they refused us printing,” he added.
Saidykhan said they ending up printing the newspaper on A4 size paper as they were bound to fulfill their duty to inform.
While resisting government attacks, the March 2006 failed coup gave the opportunity to the Jammeh regime to launch what many observers have described as the final assault against The Independent.
Musa Saidykhan clearly stated that both Foroyaa and The Independent mistakenly mentioned former minister Samba Bah as part of the coupists. But the authorities decided to go after The Independent…
Paramilitary officers were sent to seal off the newspaper premises in Kanifing, denying access to the staff.
He informed the Commission that he was subsequently arrested and taken to Serrekunda Police Station, before being transferred to the NIA headquarter in Banjul.
The General Manager Madi Ceesay, reporter Lamin Fatty were later rounded up by security forces who hell-bent on closing down the news outlet.
At the NIA, Musa Saidykhan disclosed the humiliating treatment they went through as ex-dictator’s assassin team inflicted series of torture on them.
Using various techniques, Saidykhan said the team led by Musa Jammeh and Tumbul Tamba went to the extramile to torture them, breaking his hand thrice…