R.I.P Daily Observer!

I have been following the tragic story of the Daily Observer. I wrote a piece a month ago and I reproduce it below. Now we have a situation where:-

  1. Staff have not been paid for two months – and really as I noted in the piece below, cannot realistically be paid;
  2. No one knows who owns the Daily Observer – now that it is no longer “managed” by Amadou Samba;
  3. The Baba K Jobe family will be claiming the Daily Observer as part of “ASSETS” of which Baba K Jobe was disposed. (I produced a document to create an independent share-owned new company called New Daily Observer – Amadou Samba 20%, Africell 10%, Jammeh 0%, etc, but the powers that be would have none of it! I even asked Lawyer Darboe for an interview – and I promised to be faithful to his opinion – but he would have none of it! Lawyer Darboe thought I was either lying, or mad!). Anyway, once grabbed from Baba Jobe, the Daily Observer remained un-registered and illegal to this day.

When I met Baba Jobe for the last time in June 2008 at Banjul Police HQ’s Serious Fraud Office, Baba was there (from his cell in Mile 2 Prison) to give a statement about “how he was dispossessed of his assets through court orders signed in private without a hearing or without notice to Baba’s lawyers”. Baba was expecting that the NIA man at the interview will be on his way to Kanilai to tell Baba’s story to Yahya Jammeh (and Baba hoped Jammeh would do the fair thing!). Poor Baba still believed in Jammeh – but Jammeh was just waiting for an opportunity to kill Baba once Baba’s protector Gadafy died.

Anyway, back to the Daily Observer. I think it is R.I.P because:-

  1. Daily Observer owes too much money to Gambia Revenue Authority and can never hope to repay that debt;
  2. Daily Observer can never make the money it made under Jammeh – because that was advertisement income that companies and government departments were more or less forced to pay to the Daily Observer. If Jammeh did not, for example, see HAPPY JULY 22 ad from SSHFC the MD would be in trouble.
  3. Daily Observer pro-APRC stance in the past means that businesses, and even ordinary readers, may not wish to patronise the Daily Observer (in the Jammeh Days walking into a meeting holding the Daily Observer meant you were pro-APRC).
  4. Gambia too has now joined the Social Media Revolution – on-line news and Facebook provide most peoples’ news. As we have seen in the USA, mainstream newspapers like New York Times and the Washington Post are struggling against Social Media outlets (Fox News, Facebook, etc). So in the New Gambia, there may be no room for staid old Daily Observer.

It is possible that a company like Africell could buy Daily Observer and use it for its own advertisement and to support the new government, but then it would be a completely different newspaper: Africell Daily Observer.

I think it is R.I.P for the Daily Observer – as we know it!

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Observer Must Pay Taxes & Register Properly!

in News — by editor —    June 16, 2017 — Edit

Daily Observer Possibly Traded Illegally Since It Was Taken From Baba Jobe!

When I briefly took over as MD of the Daily Observer between November 2007 and June 2008, there was a fight between Amadou Samba and myself from day one about the financial situation at the Observer Company. The issues were as follows:-

Tax:

I was shown payment for 2007 of a mere (50,000 dalasis) by my Deputy and Financial Controller Andrew Dacosta. Whether that tax was correct I do not know as Observer had an annual turnover of over 10,000,000 dalasis. Of course my tenure was brief (thank God) and I was not there long enough to assess any tax payment to GRA.

Company Registration and ownership:

Amadou Samba and I had some tape recorded arguments over this. He denied owning it and asked me to remove his name (taped). The Board Chairman, Neneh, said Amadou Samba was acting for Jammeh as “proprietor”(taped). I demanded Company Registration documents from Amadou Samba to know who owned it and he referred me to Mrs. Jallow at Attorney General’s Chambers Company Registration (taped). I could not get anything from Mrs. Jallow (NOT taped). I was removed as MD soon after asking these questions – and I refused the “order” (brought to me by my friend and a very good man IGP Benedict Jammeh – NOT taped). When I refused the post of Editor-in-Chief, and IGP Benedict Jammeh failed to arrest me, he too was sacked the next day and I was detained for 14 days. So, during my time, the very legality of Daily Observer trading as a company, let alone the tax issue, was in doubt.

Baba Jobe ownership:

It is my understanding that, at the height of his power, Baba Jobe assigned 99% of the shares of the Daily Observer to himself – and Amadou Samba owned the other 1%. Baba Jobe, I understand, registered the company properly at the Attorney General’s Chambers. After Baba Jobe was arrested, Yaya Jammeh delegated Amadou Samba to “manage” for Jammeh everything Baba Jobe “managed”. I think Amadou Samba may not have bothered to regularise the registration documents at the Attorney General’s Chambers – inspite of the fact that Amadou Samba was listed as the “proprietor”.

In Conclusion:

Much of the blah blah about the Daily Observer’s current predicament on Gambian On-Line media seems to be pure “anti-authority” FAKE NEWS. The facts are:-

Daily Observer needs to pay the tax it owes to the State. It is silly for Daily Observer to offer “free advertisement” as payment! And it is silly for Daily Observer to ask “Why now?”!! Quite simply, the BANDIT Yahya Jammeh shielded his companies and friends from paying taxes.

The Bandit Yahya Jammeh also sent FAKE TAX demands to his enemies such as Lawyer Darboe – the same FAKE TAX demands that on-line FAKE NEWS VENDERS are using against Lawyer Darboe.

Daily Observer needs to be properly registered as a Newspaper under Gambian Law – that means with KNOWN OWNERS. If Daily Observer fails to registered properly it cannot operate as a newspaper. Simple as.

Daily Observer’s only hope really is to be bought by a tycoon like Muhammad Jah who can settle with the Gambia Tax Authority – and have enough funds to run the paper. The current management and owners simply do NOT have the funds to run the paper – most of them income anyway came from “HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRESIDENT” Jammeh, etc, etc, ADS that Companies and Government Departments HAD TO put in the Daily Observer ( and the POINT!!) for the “BIG MAN” to see. In the current political climate, a pro-Daily Observer will be unlikely to get much ADS revenue – and activists have called for the Daily Observer to be boycotted.

In short, to survive, Daily Observer needs new owners with DEEP POCKETS – and needs to distance itself from the APRC to earn any ADS income.

Dida Jallow-Halake,

Notting Hill, UK.

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INTERESTING POINT REPORT

Why does the Point streneously avoid mentioning that Amadou Samba’s name was always on the back page of the Daily Observer as “PROPRIETOR”??? Why doesn’t the HEADLINE also include Amadou Samba – whose name has always been on the back page as “PROPRIETOR”??

Is Daily Observer owned by Jammeh or Baba Jobe?

The Point, Friday, June 16, 2017

Since the buying of Daily Observer by Amadou Samba, the real ownership of the newspaper has been a puzzle. Mr Samba is a prominent businessman and lawyer who was one of the staunch supporters of the government of former President Yahya Jammeh.

The Daily Observer was originally established by Kennet Best, a Liberian journalist who sought refuge in The Gambia at the height of the Liberian war.  The newspaper was launched on 11 May 1992 as the first daily newspaper in The Gambia.

According to records, on 10 May 1999, Mr Samba bought the newspaper for D1 million and in the same year, the Liberian owner of the paper was deported back to Liberia as the relationship between him and the military junta that took over the country in 1994 was soured.

Mr Samba became the publisher of the newspaper until 1 August 2002 when he made ownership transfer to the late Baba Jobe, a renowned politician during Jammeh’s regime who died in custody in 2012.  Baba was one of the strongest executive members of the former ruling APRC party.

According to family sources, the Daily Observer still legally belongs to the late Baba Jobe and all the necessary documents of the ownership are with the Jobe family.

However, the family said they do not know anything about the financial issues and management of the newspaper.

According to government sources, for several years, all the editors-in-chief and managing directors of the Daily Observer were appointed by former President Jammeh and he is also said to be the owner of the current office of the newspaper.

During the 22 years of Mr Jammeh, the newspaper had a lot of privileges and apparently, one of it was them was non-payment of tax with impunity.

It should be noted that for several years, the name of the publisher has been on the back page of the newspaper, as required by the Newspaper Act.

The act requires that the name of the publisher(s) and editor-in-chief be written on the back page of every newspaper and for every edition.

On Wednesday, Daily Observer was ordered by the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) to close down for two weeks.

The temporarily closure was as a result of the newspaper’s non-compliance with its tax obligations.

A GRA source said the newspaper owed more than D17 million in accumulated tax arrears as it had not been paying tax for the past several years.  The revenue authority also said it needs to know who really owns Observer for future dealings with the company.

 

Source: Picture: The Point Newspaper

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FINALLY?

Gambia’s biggest daily paper

shuts down for a second time

Written by SMBCon August 23, 2017

Gambian authorities have shut down the country’s biggest newspaper, the second time since the coming to power of the new government, over tax evasion.

The Daily Observer owes at least $440,000 (D17.6 million dalasis) in taxes, the company had refused to pay since its taking over by the country’s erstwhile President Yahya Jammeh.

Jammeh had used the paper as the propaganda mouthpiece of his regime. Tax authorities feared to shut down the paper due to reprisal from Jammeh, who was an absolute ruler.

Staff were asked to clear up their desk and leave at about noon on Wednesday. The police have secured the place and all locked all its workers out.

The companies Managing Director Pa Modou Mbowe, who was in talks with revenue authorities was abruptly sacked after staff revolted and challenged his running of the paper.

The company has about 104 staffers, including freelancers who are now hoping that the paper will be reopened or be forced to seek employment.

The paper is among Jammeh’s companies that have also been affected by an asset freeze and its management transferred to the accounting firm, Augustus Prom.

The Observer was tentatively closed down by the Gambia Revenue Authority in July but reopened shortly after. The Revenue Authority has dragged the company to court to recover the past due taxes.