(JollofNews) – A popular Gambian radio station has been ordered to shut down by the authorities as part of a crackdown following last month’s disputed presidential election.
Officials of the feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) ordered the Teranga radio station, “to stop broadcasting with immediate effect”, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The independent station, which translates news from English into local languages, was taken off air Saturday.
No reasons was given by the security agents, but sources close to the management said the NIA officials only said they were acting on orders from the top.
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has confirmed that the station, which is managed by exiled Journalist Alagie Ceesay, has been taken off air.
As the only independent radio station airing reviews of the news carried in privately-owned newspapers, Taranga FM has been regularly singled out for harassment by the regime of President Yahya Jammeh and was arbitrarily shutdown on several occasions by the NIA.
The station’s manager, Mr Ceesay, was arrested in July 2015 and slapped with sedition and “publication of false news” after he privately shared by phone a picture in which a gun was pointed toward a photograph of President Yahya Jammeh. The image had been circulating on the internet, and Ceesay was not its author.
During his detention Mr Ceesay has been held ‘incommunicado’ for two periods by members of the Gambian security forces. Ceesay was held in an unknown location from July 2 to July 13 2015, then released.
He was rearrested four days later and detained at the National Intelligence Agency headquarters, which is not an official place of detention, without access to a lawyer or his family. He was taken before the High Court on August 25 and charged with six counts of sedition under Section 52 of the Gambian Criminal Code, and publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm among the public.
After being denied bail despite serious health problems, he was heading for a prison sentence until he escaped in mid-April 2016 and fled to neighbouring Senegal.