Félicien Fangnon, a journalist with a privately-owned daily Le Matinal newspaper, was on March 4, 2014, arrested and questioned by the members of the country’s judicial police in Cotonou.
The MFWA’s correspondent reported that the interrogation which lasted for about an hour was in relation to a publication in the newspaper written by Fangnon.
The said article titled, “Case of drug storage at the Cotonou harbour: Koussé report gathers dust”, criticised the government for refusing to act on a report submitted by one Alidou Koussé who is the Chief State Control Officer and chairman of a commission set up to look into the storage of some drugs at the Cotonou harbour.
This commission was set up after the visit of the country’s head of state on December 18, 2013. According to the correspondent, the president raised some concerns about why the drugs had been in the harbour since 2012. On December 19, 2013 a decree was passed by cabinet and a commission of enquiry was set up and given a month to submit a report on the storage of the drugs at the Cotonou harbor.
The article also alleged that after over a month of submitting the report, the government had failed to act on it because some state authorities were implicated.
Fangnon has since been released. “They did not manhandle me, but wanted to know the source of my information. Unfortunately, they have no authority to do that” he told our correspondent.
The MFWA urges the government and state authorities to be mindful of the watchdog role of media in the development of societies and entrenchment of democracy and avoid acts that have the tendency to force the media into self-censorship.
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