Ahmed Abba, correspondent for Radio France Internationale’s (RFI) Hausa service, sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 55 million FCFA has maintained he is innocent.
Ahmed Abba spoke to Journal du Cameroon on May 4 in the Kondengui Principal Prison in Yaounde. He was sentenced for “failing to report acts of terrorism” and “laundering of the proceeds of terrorist acts”.
“They took my hard drive in which they found some photos. They claim to have seen photos of a certain Malam in the hard drive. I do not even know the said Malam who they say is one of the leaders of Boko Haram killed recently. They also claimed my phone number was found in his phone. They said I had photos of Saddam Hussein in my hard drive which meant I was “laundering proceeds of terrorist acts;” Abba lamented.
Quizzed whether he believed he might have been framed because of his critically reporting, he said “I have never reported false information. My reports on Boko Haram are always factual. My main sources are people on the ground and official statements from government. I don’t know what I have done to deserve this.”
He said he still hopes he would be freed following an appeal filed by his lawyer Barrister Clément Nakong. Ahmed Baba was sentenced after spending 635 days in pre-trial detention- he was arrested in July 2015. He says he was tortured for three months in detention in a prison cell in the Far North region before being transferred to Yaounde.
RFI and the Committee to Protect Journalists have condemned his conviction. “Ahmed Abba should never have been detained, prosecuted, and convicted for his journalism–let alone ordered to spend a decade behind bars,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ Africa Program Coordinator in Johannesburg, South Africa. “This outrageous sentence signals the lengths that Cameroon authorities are willing to go to intimidate the media and thwart freedom of the press.” She said.
A statement from RFI equally said it is the freedom to inform and to be informed that has been called into question. “RFI calls on a general global mobilisation of all those around the world who are fighting to defend this fundamental right.” the statement read in part.