The arrest and subsequent remand of Siddiq Asemota, a Daily Observer journalist, is a clear manifestation that the Gambia’s judiciary has drawn a battle line with the country’s besieged media.
Mr. Asemota, a naturalized Gambian who originally hailed from Nigeria, joined Abdul Hamid Adiamoh and Lamin Njie, editor and deputy editor of Today and Daily News, respectively. Both Adiamoh and Njie were charged with contempt of the court. While Njie enjoyed the court’s mercy, Adiamoh was convicted and heavily fined.
Mr. Asemota, a journalist with outstanding journalistic experience, was remanded at Mile II Central Prisons on Tuesday after a High Court judge made an order. Justice Emmanuel Nkea at the Special Criminal Division Court ordered Mr. Sidiq to be in custody until Friday, July 13 when his trial begins.
It’s believed that the court was furious with an Observer article published by the Daily Observer. The court article is said to have been inaccurate. Mr. Siddiq briefly appeared in court before he was escorted to the state central prisons.
Siddiq, then Asemota, had a history of rough rides with Gambian security. On 5 June 1996, he fled the Gambia only to be arrested at the border by officials of the Gambian National Intelligence Agency (NIA). He was severely beaten and held overnight but managed to escape and fled to Senegal. He left his bags containing his documentation and papers at the border.