|Col Ndure Cham|
In a scenario where dictatorships exist, news obviously becomes the first and biggest causality. The crackdown on the media becomes so hard that rumour mongering becomes the first port of spreading developing news stories. Developing news stories take many forms and shapes in global news media. The now very familiar term Breaking News on television news screens create wider alerts to the viewer.
But in the Gambian dictatorship, Breaking News is pushed to even higher epic. Sometimes ‘Breaking News’ is in fact an event which occurred moons ago. Because of the constraint the public faces in accessing information, stale news becomes a Breaking News; it does not matter whether it occurred a week or month ago because the consumer hears it for the first time.
The fundamental question that now arises is whether the former GNA security officers have become part of the problem. A candid analysis of a posting by Retired Lt. Kejau Touray on Gambia L concerning the apparent kidnapping and abduction of former GNA Chief of Staff, Col. Ndure Cham, in Casamance will provide some answers.
“I do not think Col. Ndure had ‘as’ connection with the Casamance separatist, if he in fact was abducted from Casamance. As his life and our relationship with Senegal may be at stake now, I beg all to exercise caution on this story but it is suffice to say that both stories of his abduction either in Senegal or Gambia seem to have holes gaping in them. After all, he knows the number of times the separatist have abducted our service personnel running away from persecution since 11 November 1994, so I doubt he will be that negligent, we have had rumours that he goes to his bother village frequently. The truth we will know. The important thing now is not to throw accusations against our neighbours based on unconfirmed stories.”
The Western-based Gambian online media go through many hurdles in bringing news to the doorsteps of Gambians worldwide. In this endeavour, many of the online news media freely sacrifice their human and material resources and in the process foot the expensive telephone cost, which sometimes run into double figures in Pounds and Dollars. I was in Kejau’s shoes before I had joined the media but that is no longer the case, for I now understand the procedure that journalists follow before their stories go to bed. They embark on the desperate and painstaking journey of following the leads to ascertain the veracity of the story through many sources before arriving at sound editorial discretion or judgment. 0
However, we agree that the media needs to exercise prudence while treating complicated and sensitive stories. Col. Ndure Cham’s story falls within this category. Even after gathering all the facts of the story, Kibaaro News editorial found itself trapped between telling the story as it was told or bury the key fact – the abduction in Casamance. But in as much as we exercised caution, we cannot and must not do-away with the key fact or else we would do disservice to our listeners or audience. As responsible editors, we treated the story with maturity. 0
We at Kibaaro News are ready to take the whip from the very public we serve. But in this case scenario, we think it is fair to turn daggers at our former security officers for their failure to provide expert security analysis in the Gambia. Despite having the likes of Kejau Touray, Ebrima Chonghan, Major Pa Modou Ann, Major Bojang, Baboucar Jatta, Lamin Sanyang, Lt Binneh Minteh, Lt Lalo Jaiteh, Lt Colonel Sam Sarr, Essa Bokar Sey, and the many ex-GNA officer outside the jurisdiction of the Gambia, the media still struggle to piece together a story as important as the abduction of the former GNA Chief of Staff. That’s worrying to the bone, to call spade a spade. 0
Lt Kejau Touray and company should worry more on how to act as a leverage for ex-GNA officers who may be in harm’s way than merely criticising the major content of a news story, only to indirectly believe in the more serious side to the story.
When the news of Ndure Cham’s yet-to-be confirmed execution was speculated, the same Lt. Kejau Touray briefly wrote: “May his soul rest in peace. May he be Jammeh’s last victim.” You even wonder the basis of Kejau’s argument because it does not make sense to believe in what has not been confirmed and at the same time, downplayed what has been confirmed. It then becomes clear that Kejau is selective or bias in his analysis; he simply believes in what he wants to believe and dashes away the rest. What a poor judgment, especially by a former Lt. tasked with interrogation! We know the story but we will get there at an appropriate time. 0
It is about time that our former Gambian security officers found ways to provide concrete analysis and news on security situation of Gambians, especially with regard to their colleagues. in and out of the country instead of sitting down on their laurels watching everyone becoming a victim of Jammeh’s tyranny. The detachment that exist within the Gambia’s ex-GNA officers is epic pandemonium, which should be curtailed. 0
We can take the likes of Kejau seriously only when they establish a network that provide undiluted information on security-related news, particularly on extra-judicial executions by Jammeh’s killers. In that case, the media will not only become a taker but diversify its resources to investigating other news leads.