The false information trial against Nanama Keita, former sports editor of the Daily Observer newspaper, yesterday opened at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before acting-Principal Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagba, with the testimony of the first prosecution witness.
Nanama Keita is charged with giving of false information to the office of the President.
Alagie Jobe, the deputy editor-in-chief and head of the Editorial Department at the Daily Observer Newspaper Company, yesterday told the court in his testimony that the Observer management had provided an IT expert to check their computers, to know who has linked with the online newspaper based in the United States of America called Freedom Newspaper.
He said this followed the frequent false publications against Observer’s Managing Director in the online Freedom Newspaper.
“On 21 April 2011, I was at the Daily Observer office in a Mercedez Benz with registration number Observer 2 that was negotiated and brought to the office as an official vehicle”.
He said, on that day, there was maintenance work going on till in the evening, when the MD asked him to call the accused person to come and open his office for the technician to service his computer, which he did.
He said, after the accused had opened his office, they all went downstairs to see the said Mercedes Benz, and the MD later asked him, Assan Sallah, the chief driver and the accused person to board the Benz for testing, adding that during the testing the accused person was the first person to express his satisfaction with the Benz, as it was in good condition.
Jobe added that the Benz was handed over to the Editorial Department, but before the vehicle was handed over to him, as the head of the department, a meeting was held at the office of the MD, when the Managing Director made it clear that he wanted to hand over the vehicle to him as the head of the editorial department, and that everybody spoke at that meeting.
“The MD told the meeting that the vehicle was not for personal use, that it was going to be an official car, so that it would always be made available to the office anytime when the need arises,” Jobe told the court.
He added that, on the following day, while he was at home, the MD called and informed him that Pa Nderry Mbai, the editor of the online newspaper called Freedom Newspaper, had called him to say that he (Pa Malick Faye) bought a car for him (Jobe).
“The MD summoned a meeting that night comprising senior staff, and the accused was called to come and attend the meeting, but he failed,” Jobe continued.
He said at that meeting, the MD briefed them that the meeting was related to an article published in the Freedom Newspaper.
Still testifying, he told the court that though they could not access the Freedom Newspaper, there was a friend who was able to access the Freedom Newspaper web site, who printed out the email to the Observer and the MD expressed dissatisfaction with the article, and warned that whoever is having links with the Freedom Newspaper must stop.
He said the MD later called the accused person to come to the office, which he did, but prior to this article, the management of Observer agreed to check their system to know who has linked up with the Freedom Newspaper.
Jobe also told the court that, when the IT expert checked all the machines (computers) at the Observer, he was able to show them the number of emails and other correspondence the accused sent to the Freedom Newspaper.
He added that the MD ordered the machine to be kept in his office, but the accused person was having another computer, and continued to repeat the same thing.
The MD was left with no option, but to sack the accused person, Jobe added.
The case at that juncture was adjourned till 4th August 2011.