Release of Madi Jobarteh: A Big Win for CSOs’ Collective Advocacy in West Africa

Release of Madi Jobarteh: A Big Win for CSOs’ Collective Advocacy in West Africa

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“I am happy to announce that as Inspector General of Police of The Gambia Police Force, we are dropping all charges against Mr. Madi Jobarteh as from today. No other action will be taken against him as far as this case is concerned”, said the IGP in a statement issued by the National Secretariat of the National Human Rights Commission of The Gambia.

The Inspector General of The Gambia Police Force, Mr. Mamour Jobe, shared this positive sentiment on 10 July 2020 towards the release of Mr. Madi Jobarteh, a renowned advocate for social justice in the Gambia.

On 30 June 2020, Mr. Jobarteh was invited by the police to clarify a media interview he had granted relating to George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter Movement during a demonstration he organised on 27 June 2020 in front of the United States Embassy in Serrekunda, The Gambia. He was later arrested and charged with “false information and broadcasting”. He was later granted bail and asked to report to the police regularly for an undefined period.

This is evidence of restrictions to the civic freedoms of Gambians, a situation social justice organisations in West Africa denounce.

Facilitated by three leading civil society organisations (CSOs); the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), CIVICUS and Africans Rising, some 30 African CSOs, most from West Africa, condemned the arbitrary arrest and harassment of Mr. Jobarteh.

“This amounts to harassment and the curtailing of his rights to freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Constitution of the Gambia – which mandates the Government to respect, safeguard and allow for the enjoyment of those rights,” a statement issued by the consortium of CSOs and addressed to the President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow on 10 July 2020, read.

The CSOs drew the attention of President Barrow to the fact that the arrest of Mr. Jobarteh highlights the growing trend of repressions to civic freedoms, including freedom of expression and speech and an incessant violation of citizen’s fundamental human rights in the country.

“Mr. President, we also wish to underscore the fact that Mr. Jobarteh’s arrest and false accusation is just one of the many, suggesting a dangerous descent for the country as far as human rights, freedoms, and democratic governance are concerned,” the CSOs’ statement to the President read.

Hence, they firmly appealed to the President to take stringent measures to reverse this negative trend in the country, beginning with the immediate release of Mr. Jobarteh. As the CSOs put it:

“We, in solidarity with the people of the Gambia, and Mr. Madi Jobarteh in particular, therefore, call upon your administration to reverse this disturbing trend, and demonstrate greater commitment to civil and human rights, and protect the fundamental and constitutional rights to expression of Gambians.”

This joint advocacy statement was shared with the President of The Gambia on 10 July 2020 and it catalysed the release of the fearless social justice advocate Mr. Jobarteh later that day.

In an email to WACSI and other CSOs that championed this laudable and successful collaborative advocacy effort, Mr. Jobarteh said, “your intervention was timely and indeed I continue to receive appreciation of the power and aptness of your letter to the president”.

In her response to Mr. Jobarteh, Ms. Omolara Balogun, Head, Policy Influencing and Advocacy unit at WACSI recognised and commended the power of collective action among CSOs. “Congratulations to us all! Special thanks to colleagues who endorsed the letter within the shortest time available. We were thrilled at the level of solidarity received across the region,” she said.

She reiterated WACSI’s continuous commitment to advocate for an enabling environment for civil society, including the promotion of the freedoms of association, assembly and expression for all West Africans which are indispensable for an open society. Ms. Balogun called on civil society actors to continue to work assiduously to change the narratives of repressions on civic freedoms currently experienced across the sub-region.

“It is high time we reflected and attempt to change the narratives around our democracy, human rights, and development in West Africa. It is sad to note that, rather than consolidating, we seem to be losing (fast) even the gains we have made in the last decade[s]. There is growing tension from Nigeria, to Ghana, to Guinea (Conakry and Bissau), the entire Sahel region, to Cote d’Ivoire, and if unattended to, this tension threatens our collective growth and peace,” she said.

Agreeing to this, Mr. Jobarteh decried the deplorable state of development in West Africa. “Our subregion is not in good shape. Even those countries we trumpet as better democracies such as Ghana, Senegal, and Cape Verde among others, one will still find massive corruption, inequality, high cost of living, severe structural imbalances, weak institutions and poor service delivery where majority of the people cannot afford, access and enjoy basic social services among other challenges,” he said.

He, therefore, urged all civic actors to collaboratively and proactively contribute to the development of a roadmap to reverse this situation.

According to Mr. Jobarteh, “I think there is a need for civil society to convene and craft an agenda that will mark the beginning of a robust social, economic and political transformation of the region”.

Together with other civil society actors in the region, WACSI is championing a discussion to move this agenda forward and facilitate a convening that will create room for civil society actors to share their perspectives, agree on priorities and define action points that will put the West African peoples first in efforts to have an open and prosperous West Africa.

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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.