Omar A Jallow, popularly known as OJ, is seeking D20m in damages in a defamation case against Kerr Fatou.
The former agriculture minister and leader of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is seeking damages for a report on the website that he connived with a businessman to sell tones of government fertilizer.
In an interview with journalists, OJ claimed the report, which spread across social media and blogs, left his family and friends upset and bewildered, damaged his reputation and caused him distress.
According to the Point Newspaper, the veteran politician is seeking D20m in compensatory damages, along with D1m being legal and administrative costs.
Shortly after OJ’s civil suit was filed by his lawyer, some Kerr Fatou followers took to social media to stand in solidarity with the online media outlet. UK-based Gambian, Saihou Saidily appealed to Gambians to support media freedom and pluralism.
“I am going to stand in full solidarity with Kerr Fatou,” he said in a Facebook video that garnered more than 3,000 views.
A prominent Gambian lawyer told What’s On-Gambia: “I have gone through the article published by Kerr Fatou. I have also had the chance to listen to the press conference organized by OJ.
“The Kerr Fatou publication alleged that OJ colluded with a businessman for financial gain to sell government fertilizer. It was the contention of OJ that he never signed the contract alleged by Kerr Fatou nor did he instruct or authorize anyone to do so. Since OJ took the matter to court, he bears the burden to prove that the said publication is false and thus defamatory to his character. If he succeeds in discharging this burden, then he shall be entitled to damages.
“Kerr Fatou, on the other hand, can invoke the defence of truth and public interest. They can argue that their publication on OJ is indeed true. Also considering the importance of media in a democracy and the stance of the state towards corruption, it's in the interest of the public that corrupt practices by public officials are exposed. This will make their publication to be a fair comment and thus defamation will not lie against them.
“Let's wait and see how the court resolves the issues that will be raised by the parties. It's going to be interesting!”
About Kerr Fatou
It is an online media outlet that was established last year by former GRTS talk show host, Fatou Touray. Kerr Fatou has already gathered more than 54,000 likes on Facebook. It is widely believed to be the fastest growing online media outlet.