Straightforward: Wave of operations to annihilate Critical Media in Togo

Straightforward: Wave of operations to annihilate Critical Media in Togo

« Our freedom depends on the freedom of the press, and it cannot be limited without being lost. » (Thomas Jefferson)

The sky is darkening at the start of the year for the independent media in Togo. Almost all the newspapers deemed critical of Faure Gnassingbé’s regime are in the eye of the storm. Freedom of the press is thus put to the test. The setbacks began at the beginning of February when the High Authority for Audiovisual and Communication (HAAC) took a double decision to suspend the private daily “Liberté” and the fortnightly “Tampa Express” for three months each.

If the daily “Liberté” saw its suspension canceled a month later, on March 2, 2023, by a court decision, in particular of the Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Lomé, a decision which was not to the taste of some people in the seraglio, the sanction against “Tampa Express” was maintained. But the confrere was not at the end of his troubles. Obviously not satisfied with the three-month suspension imposed on the newspaper, the CEO of Togo Terminal is this time filing a complaint with the courts for “insult, defamation and publication of false information”.

The Publication Director of Tampa Express, Francisco Napo Koura is summoned to appear on March 15, 2023 before the High Court of Lomé. Counsel for the plaintiff asks the court to order the defendant “to pay Mr. Charles Kokouvi Gafan the sum of 30 million FCFA” and to “order the provisional execution of the judgment to intervene notwithstanding all remedies and without bail” .

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In the aftermath, the affair concerning the colleagues Ferdinand Ayité, Director of publication of the bi-weekly “L’Alternative” and the late Joël Egah of the weekly “Fraternité” was dusted off. The two journalists who had been imprisoned for a few weeks at the end of 2021, for having criticized two ministers of Faure Gnassingbé, were summoned to appear today, March 8, 2023 at the Lomé courthouse. As if that were not enough, Ferdinand Ayité was summoned on Sunday March 5, 2023 by the Central Service for Criminal Research and Investigations (SCRIC), the political police of the Togolese regime. Since then, the colleague has been missing.

It is worth remembering that some time after their release from prison on December 31, 2022, Joël Egah died suddenly on March 6, 2022 while showing no apparent signs of illness. To date, the circumstances of his death have still not been elucidated. Today, Ferdinand Ayité is nowhere to be found. His relatives no longer have any news of him.

To confirm that there is a plan hatched against the independent media in Togo, the old affair of retrocommissions in the repair of the Lomé-Vogan-Anfoin road axis has also just been revived. Carlos Kétohou, Publication Director of the weekly “L’Indépendant Express”, a newspaper banned from publication since January 2021, was summoned twice this year, on January 4 and February 22, 2023 to appear before the Correctional Chamber of the Court of First Instance of Lomé by the counsel of the former Minister of Economy and Finance, Adji Oteth Ayassor.

However, this case already dates back eight (08) years. Media had revealed at the time that the construction of the Lomé-Vogan-Anfoin road had given rise to financial embezzlement involving 26 billion FCFA. Part of these funds, intended for the repair of this road, vanished and the work was abandoned, before being taken over by the Chinese company CRBC for a new amount of 31 billion FCFA.

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CECO BTP, the company to which the contract had been awarded and two ministers of Faure Gnassingbé had been indexed by the media who had all been summoned to court. Eight years later, barons of the regime who have the avenging sword, dusted off this old affair to silence the rebellious media…

Medard Ametepe

Source: Freedom



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