Saturday, 26 January 2013 15:36(JollofNews) – Pa Malick Faye has used his first newspaper interview since his sacking as managing director of the Gambia's Daily Observer to rubbished reports that he has a hand in the disappearance of Journalist Ebrima Chief Manneh.
Chief Manneh, 33, a crime reporter with the pro-government newspaper was arrested in July 2006 at the newspaper premises by state security agents. His whereabouts is still unknown and despite a handful of reported sightings in government custody, the Gambia Government has denied arresting or detaining him.
Mr Manneh was said to have been reported to the authorities by Dr Saja Taal, a University of the Gambia lecturer and former managing director of the newspaper after he downloaded a BBC story from the internet. It was said that Pa Malick Faye- then a senior reporter- had allegedly shown the printout of the downloaded story which was never published in the newspaper to Dr Taal.
However in a phone interview with JollofNews, Pa Malick Faye described the allegations as complete nonsense. He said the allegations are nothing but a ‘concoction of lies’ cooked up by his critics and enemies to smear his name.
“Chief Manneh and I were close friends and I have not played any role in his arrest and disappearance, Mr Faye said.
He added: “It is really upsetting to see people using the internet to smear my name without having any evidence to support their claims. They should have sought to hear my own side of the story in the interest of balance reporting. I swear to Allah that I have not played any direct or indirect role in Chief Manneh’s disappearance. My conscience is clear and I am ready to take legal actions against newspaper that publishes any libellous material against me.”
Mr Faye said he had seen the BBC story Mr Manneh downloaded for the World News column of the newspaper but said he and other members of the editorial team including Chief Manneh decided to drop the story as it was a bit critical of the president.
Mr Faye added: “We saw the article late in the night when we were working on the next edition of the paper. The article was already burnt on the plate and was being printed by the printers. We told the printers to stop printing it even though they had already printed about 2000 pages and requested for two new plates from the storekeeper, Lamin Kujabi. While giving us the new plates, the storekeeper told us that he is require to explain to the management why he had issued two extra plates in line with the company’s rules.
“This was the last time I saw the article or discussed about it with anyone. I have never shown the article or discussed anything about it with Dr Taal. Dr Taal may have come across the plates containing the article when the storekeeper was trying to explain to him why he had issued two additional plates to the lithographers.”
Mr Faye said although he suspects that his former colleague was reported to the authorities by Dr Taal, he is not convinced that Mr Manneh was reported to the authorities just for downloading the article.
Mr Faye said he was reliably informed by some of his former work colleagues that Chief Manneh had an altercation with Dr Taal some days after the said article was downloaded during which Dr Taal threatened to show him that he was a ‘Ndon’go Banjul’ bad boy from Banjul.
He added: “Chief Manneh’s family is like my own family and I have supported them both financially and morally during this trying period. I have never reported my best friend to Dr Taal or to anyone.”
Mr Faye said although it was sad to have got the sack, he is proud of his record as the youngest managing director of the Observer. Mr Faye was sacked early this month for the paper’s reporting of President Jammeh’s New Year’s message.
“I was not the author of the story and had nothing to do it, but I had to pay the price as managing director,” he said.
He added: “The first thing I did when I became MD was to sort the company’s finances, increase all salaries across the board, change the paper from black and white to colour, bought printing machines and vehicles for the company, set up the position of provincial reporters in all regions of the country, oversee the successful transfer of the newspaper to a new office building and many more. The Observer is in a better financial footing today than when I took over.
“People may say whatever negative things they want about me, but the records of my achievements are there for everyone to see. Any suggestions that I misappropriated the company’s finances are nonsense. Records of all the cheques I signed or any payment I approved are there with the company’s accountant.”
LATE MOMODOU SANYANG
On his relationship with the late director general of the Gambia Radio and Television Services, Momodou Sanyang, who was also chairman of the newspaper’s board of the directors, Pa Malick Faye denied reports that he became the boss of the Daily Observer because of his connections with Mr Sanyang.
“I have never spoken to Mr Sanyang or had any connections with him prior to my appointment as MD of the Observer. We spoke for the first time on the phone when he called and asked me go and collect a letter from his office. It so happened that it was a letter confirming my appointment as MD.
"Like other past managing directors, I have received a lot of support from Mr Sanyang in his capacity as board chairman of the company. But for anyone to say that I got the job because of a personal relationship I had with Mr Sanyang, is simply not true.”
Written by PK Jarju
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