By Alhagie Jobe
Alhagie Manka, a freelance journalist, documentary producer and CEO of State of Mic Multimedia has been released from state custody on Wednesday after a week’s incommunicado detention.
Mr Manka was arrested on Thursday November 10, and detained at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul for taking photos of the crowd that accompanied the President during his nomination process.
In a short chat after been released, Manka said “Yes it is confirmed. It’s crazy but all is well”. This was followed by another phone call to further confirm whether it was him using his Facebook account and it was indeed him and has reunited with his family.
On his twitter page, Manka tweeted“#alhamdulillah thank you all for your prayers” with a photo of him and his brother Babucarr Manka all smiling widely.
Manka was not the only journalist arrested for taking photographs of the presidential activities. Another journalist Yunus Salieu, of the pro-government newspaper was also arrested same day for using his phone to photograph sympathizers of the ruling APRC Party who were celebrating at President Jammeh’s nomination. He was released later on Friday, while Manka was still detained at the NIA headquarters.
Meanwhile, the director of the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) Momodou Sabally who was relieved of his duties on 8th November is still held at the NIA.
Another journalist Bakary Fatty of the same state owned GRTS is also detained at the NIA since Tuesday 8th November. There has been no news about the reasons behind their arrests and detention.
On Tuesday, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed concern about the threats, arrests and detention faced by journalists in The Gambia ahead of the general elections scheduled to take place on 1st December.
IFJ said the detention of these journalists is in violation of the Gambia Constitution which states that “anyone arrested on suspicion of committing an offence must be brought before a competent court of law within 72 hours or released on bail”.
It called on the government of The Gambia to uphold press freedom and ensure the safety of journalists while covering the election campaign as well as the entire election process.