The media regulatory authority in Togo, the High Authority for the Electronic Media Broadcasting and Communication (Haute Autorité de l’audiovisuel et de la communication-HAAC), closed the head office of the online newspaper Afrika Express Info.
On October 1, 2014 the HAAC issued a communiqué accusing the director of Afrika Express Info, Carmel Max Savi, a Beninese national, of not having obtained prior authorization to open his office in the Togolese capital, Lomé, and of devoting nearly all of his articles to a “disinformation campaign on Togo.”
According to the MFWA’s correspondent in Togo, the HAAC also drew Savi’s attention to the illegal existence of his office after the HAAC received an invitation to the official launch of Afrika Express Info on September 24. The HAAC asked Savi to suspend the launch and to regularize his status first.
The media regulatory body said Savi held a press conference and made a “biased reference to the interaction … and told lies.” Savi reportedly said that no regulatory framework exists in Togo for the online media and so he was not at fault.
The HAAC subsequently shut down the head office of Afrika Express Info, pursuant to Article 2 of its organic law which provides that “the organic law shall apply to newspapers, official and private electronic media and other means of communication.”
Savi’s problems with the HAAC have been ongoing for several years now.
An article published on Afrika Express Info reported on the health of the HAAC president Biossey Kokou Tozoun, and according to the MFWA’s correspondent, this did not sit well with the regulatory body.
Apart from the aforementioned online publication, Savi also operates the Tribune d’Afrique newspaper, which is based in Benin with an office in Lomé. In Togo, there have been many court cases involving this paper.
In May 2010, the Tribune d’Afrique published a controversial article, titled “The white powder that blackens the presidential palaces: Drug trafficking at the Head of State.” The article alleged that Mey Gnassingbé, Special Adviser to the Presidency and half-brother of the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé, was involved in drug trafficking. Mey Gnassingbé sued the newspaper for “publication of false news and defamation.”