Human Rights, Legal, Opinion

BREAKING NEWS: Gambian Journalists Upset With Police PRO

PRO ASP Lamin Njie
Saikou Jammeh SG Gambia Press Union

By: Fabakary B. Ceesay
Many senior Gambian Journalists specialised in crime reporting and Police related matters, have voice out their frustration with the way and manner the mouthpiece of The Gambia Police Force, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Lamin Njie behaves towards Journalists who do contact him for comments on Police related matters before going to press.
However, these Journalists, some of whom with almost two decades experience in the media, lamented their frustration and anger with ASP Njie, accusing him of deliberately ignoring calls and fond of given false promises to get back to them about any information they seek from him. Mr. Njie is also accused of unfairly picking media houses to speak to among the lot.
Mr. Njie is described by many as the worst and terrible PRO ever appointed by GPF in terms of dissemination of information to the media concerning the Police.
These lamentations were prompted by Trumpet Newspaper Managing Editor who voiced out his bad experience with PRO Njie in a Gambia Press Union (GPU) WhatsAPP chat group, that he Njie deliberately ignored his calls on several occasions.
The Trumpet reporter writes, “This Gambian Police Spokesperson is the worst I ever knew in my two decades experience as a crime reporter. He doesn’t pick calls neither did he reply to text messages. Am thinking of not contacting him on matters relating to Police. Once he picked a call and you inform him about an incident involving the Police he will say I will get back to you but will never do. If you tried him again he will ignore your calls or switched off his lines. Or is it that he is doing that only to the Trumpet Newspaper!!! I feel disgusted with his actions. From my experience with Pa Amady Jallow, Aziz Bojang, Sulyaman Secka, Yorro Mballow and David Kujabie, this ASP Lamin Njie is the worst PRO GPF ever have.”
I believed he knew our numbers but just ignore our calls. I ambushed him once with a different number and only rang once and he picked it. When I complained to him he said my number is similar to a number that has been pestering him with calls. I told him his predecessors like Aziz Bojang and Sulayman Secka have all the numbers of Journalists. He asked me to send him a message about the incident and he will get back but he never did. After hours of waiting I tried him several times no response and later both his lines were off. In a nutshell ASP Lamin Njie should get media quarantine period!!!!”
GPU executive member wrote, “Trumpet alone? No, I had the same experience too. He might be a very good Police officer but I am not sure he is cut out for the job of a PRO.”
A season senior journalist laments, “Our problem is that in most of our public institutions anybody can simply be a public relations officer or communication officer without any form of education or training on the subject.”
A freelancer writes, “he is not fit” and another one says, “you right my brother, I can also attest to that.” Another complains, “And it applies to many of the government spokespersons. I don’t see the benefits of some of them being employed. Because they are failing their responsibilities.”
The Point writes. “Very bad PRO, the point is he don’t respect the media. I thought am the only one complaining about his behavior, it is high time his authorities know about his attitude towards the media.”
Gambia Talent said, I thought we were the only one in this boat. He does not answer our calls or grant us an interview. On the whole we are not in this alone. I seconded the motion to engage the Gambia Police Force about his attitude. He picks the media houses and journalists he wants to talk to. Count us in, we will go to any level that is in accordance with the law to make sure he changes his attitude towards journalists or give up his position. He cannot be paid by tax payers money and yet not deliver.”
Gambia Digest reporter said, “The GPU can file a complaint to the IGP about his attitude. I can remember doing that with a fellow reporter against former PRO Mballow in 2011 and few months later he was transferred. This is becoming unbearable. What is his role? Or else we can write a story about his lackadaisical attitude and everyone will know. He will react and the senior management will take note and discuss it in their regular briefings. Wait for a live coverage or press conference and expose him or use a private number when calling him. Ignore their press releases and publish what you want to publish then they will cooperate.”
The Chronicle writes, “Lamin Njie is really terrible.”
The Monitor said, “He did it to me many a time. I never now not depend on him matters relating to crime. When I call him and he said I will get back I just carry on that of his statement and publish my story.”
Former senior news producer of Choice FM said, “He did it to me on several times in the past”
Eye Africa said, “I have this experience a multiple time, exactly the way you said it, frankly.”
Contacted for comments about the protests against him, PRO Njie said he is aware of the complaints from the journalists because a concern person has snapshot the comments about him posted at the GPU chat group and sent it to him. He indicated that all media houses and journalists are equal to him. ASP Njie also lamented the nature of Police work as a chain of command and most of the times he needs to consult with his seniors and officers on the scene to brief him. He indicated that he is very concern about the matter and will do all it takes to be in touch with journalists contacting him on issues relating to Police.
‘I do make follow ups with officers concern and have to link with my seniors and at times certain incidents happens at the provinces where it is difficult to get information from due to poor network. Also Police have different units across the country and getting them at the same time is always difficult,” he said.
He indicated that he do receive dozens of calls from different journalists working with separate media houses on different issues pertaining to Police and he do find it tough to know exactly which journalist contacted him on which issue. “Also I might be in a meeting or at a conference with my seniors and there I cannot take calls,” he said.
He pointed out that at times releasing information is difficult but he has no personal issues or grudges against any particular media house or journalist. He said all Journalists are doing the same job in keeping the public informed and that he can only compliment their efforts for serving as a source of information to him about incidents involving Police.
“You are all equal to me whether I know you in person or not and please tell your colleagues I don’t have specially media house or journalist in this profession and we are all equal professionals. I humbly apologies to all the journalists who raised this matter in your chat group and I took it in good faith,” said PRO Njie.
He concluded by calling on journalists to freely visit his office for familiarisation purposes.

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