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Nigerian rights defender jailed in The Gambia; his organisation banned indefinitely

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 6 September 2010, the Banjul Magistrate court presided over by Hilary Abeke suspended indefinitely a human rights NGO, Africa in Democracy and Good Governance (ADG), from operating in the country and sentenced its Nigerian Director of Programmes, Edwin Nebolisa Kwakaeme, to a mandatory six-month prison term with hard labour for giving false information to the office of President Yahya Jammeh.

Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) sources in The Gambia reported that Kwakaeme has been ordered to surrender all documents of the organisation in his possession to the court and pay a fine of 10,000 dalasis (about US$330) as a fine or in default, serve an extra three years in prison with hard labour.

Before the sentence, the activist had been on remand for seven months. He had spent a one and half weeks in police custody.

The sources said Kwakaeme is a publisher of the privately-owned quarterly "Window" magazine which has been reporting on human rights violations in the country. He was arrested on 8 March, after writing to the office of President Jammeh asking him to make his daughter a goodwill ambassador to the ADG.

This judgment vindicates MFWA's position about President Jammeh's regime which has systematically undermined all political and social institutions in the country. Apart from journalists, political opponents have also been targets of the repressive regime.

On 1 April, Femi Peters, the campaign manager of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), was jailed for one year. He was first arrested on 25 October 2009 in connection with a rally held in Serekunda on 24 October and charged with two criminal counts of "Control of procession" and "Control of use of a loud speaker" under the Public Order Act.

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