Gwain Colbert Fulai: Paying the price of investigative journalism

Gwain Colbert Fulai: Paying the price of investigative journalism
A Bamenda based journalist and promoter of the Bamenda Human Rights Films and Arts Festival was picked up by police for investigating into elections irregularities. Colbert Gwain, Editor of the Colbert Factor was illegally arrested while on the field investigating allegations that some politicians were buying voters’ cards in Bamenda. Talking to this reporter from police custody, Colbert Gwain said he was picked up without a warrant of arrest from the State Counsel for Mezam or the Attorney General of the North West Region.
He said he was out to investigate allegations that some people were collecting cards for others and that they were guys moving around with more than 25 cards distributing them in violation of the law. He said that he personally witnessed some people collecting voters’ cards for other. “When I saw it I immediately drew the attention of the ELECAM agent”, adding that he felt so embarrassed that the agents was acting against the instruction of ELECAM boss Fonkam Azu’u.
The SDF it should be noted had earlier warned that anyone carrying voters’ cards that does not belong to him/her would be dealt with accordingly. SDF Communication Officer Anembom Munjo is quoted to have said that some politicians were promising 2000 FCFA each to buy SDF ballots. Journalists in Bamenda are scared as ELECAM and police are intimidating journalists.
The said journalist who has been investigating a story entitled:’ Claims of Voter’s Card Buying Stirs New Controversy Ahead of September 30 Twin Elections’ as part of his research paper in fulfillment of an online course on ‘Data-Driven Journalism from the University of Americas is still in police custody and many already fear for his life as many have suffered the same fate in the past years. The arrest of the Editor Colbert Gwain has re-kindled interest in journalists across the country who have witnessed similar patterns in election malpractices.
The issue of voters’ cards being handed to individuals to share is not new as allegations abound. A similar case of voters’ cards handed to individuals to share surfaced in Nkambe where dozens of voters’ cards were handed to Dr. Fonkam as proof in a meeting at the community hall. It should be recalled that the story of Bibi Ngota is still fresh in the minds of journalists. An atmosphere of uncertainty now looms in the North West Region ahead of the September 30 Municipal/Legislative Elections.

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