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Welcome to the Hot Seat

Aug 25, 2008, 5:56 AM

Now they come, now they go, it all has the dynamics of abrogation. The more you look, the less you see. In recent times, The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has seen Director Generals come and go. It was Harry Sambou, then the late Pa Jallow, then Captain Malamin Jarjue, then Benedict Jammeh and now its Major Modou Lamin Badjie who is the new boss of the NIA.

Please sir! Accept our hearty congratulations on your appointment as the new Director General of the NIA. We rejoice with you on a familiar terrain having served The Gambia Armed Forces for several years.

Ever since the NIA came into being, Director Generals have been coming and going at the NIA; is it that they haven't been doing well enough?

It is an undeniable fact that countries all over the world, The Gambia of course is no exception, set up intelligence agencies with the sole objective of uncovering real threats to national security.

However, we as journalists are concerned about the environment in which we operate. Journalists are generally perceived as troublemakers. It is through our activities that the world gets to know what is happening, where, why and by whom.

We keep the world going by providing truthful information. Because the truth is sometimes difficult to swallow, those who at times engage in dubious deals brand us as trouble makers or even enemies.

To be sure, there would be chaos around the world without journalists, as people wouldn't know what is happening next door. And what do we get in most instances for our efforts? Arrests, arbitrary detention, closure of newspapers and broadcasting stations, harassment, torture and even assassinations.

Regarding assassinations, we're appalled that investigations into the cold blood murder of our very own Deyda Hydara seem to have stalled. Although we were recently informed through the Vice President, Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy that investigations are still on, its now nearly four years since Deyda Hydara was gunned down, yet his killers are yet to be found and brought to justice. The killers should not be left to get away with the impression that The Gambia is a lawless country where the gun rules. It should be thoroughly investigated.

So we are appealing to the new NIA boss to revive the investigation into the death of Deyda Hydara. We also appeal to the new NIA boss to use his noble office to help trace out journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh of the Daily Observer, who in July 2006 went missing and is yet to be found.

The Independent newspaper, Citizen FM and Sud FM remain closed. This is no doubt not a good image for the country. The more newspapers we have in this country, the better because what one newspaper may suppress, another paper will blow up. In this way, the government, the general public and the NIA know virtually everything that is going on in the public domain rather than having it repressed somewhere in the recess of their minds.

We know it is not easy to control the intelligence agency of any country. It is a demanding job and that is why we are entreating you to be conscious enough to distinguish real threats from imaginary ones. We journalists, like every other serious minded citizen, love this country as much as anyone else.

In conclusion, we would like to appeal again to you to double-check any information against people that may be aimed at damaging the image of good citizens. This more often than not could lead to the dismissal or arrest of innocent people.

We wish you good luck and God's guidance in your exacting newly found job.

"Truth exists; only lies are invented."

Georges Braque