"Banged up abroad" tales from the Ivory Coast, or a couple of arrests too many in the West African country.
On July 1, 2021, Miss Arlette Zate, an Ivory Coast-born French cyber activist, was detained at Felix Houphouet Bouagny airport by authorities keen to get the low down on a defamation complaint from none other than former First Lady Simone Gbagbo.
Locked up in the infamous (Maca) prison, her sentence landed the first blow into the murky world of Ivorian Social media, where everything is a no "holds barred" buzz factory. Here, Video loggers and new-age cyber activists intoxicated by Likes, Views and Followers, tear one another apart daily.
Miss Zate was released with a five months suspended sentence, in addition to a three-year ban from travelling to the country and 75 Million CFA (113. 894,80 Euro) damages to the ex, Mrs Gbagbo.The arrest and subsequent sentence sent shockwaves across the country for its unfair nature. For one, Miss Zate was arrested and detained without a proper hearing or the right to a lawyer.
Under different circumstances, she could have walked away from jail as early as the next day on a technicality. Instead, Simone Gbagbo and her friends chose to make an example of her, so Justice pleased the powerful. What a paradoxical state of affairs from the former First Lady who seems to be enjoying her new acquaintances within the regime that dragged her on the way to a lenghty jail term, semi-naked by the braids out of the ruins of her bomb out palace a decade ago!
Then, on August 10, 2021, Mr "Love Gugu", one of Ivory Coast's most vocal LGBT advocates on Social Media, was detained for the viral X-rated commentaries of her sexual encounters with renowned Ivorian comedian Yvidero in several of her videos footages.
The comedian who claims that she is heterosexual, vehemently denied ever been in a gay love affair with the Ivorian "Love Gugu", during a confrontation in the presence of police authorities. "Love Gugu" confirmed that he had indeed had sexual encounters with Yvidero.
According to credible sources prsent during this endless hearsay episode, Miss Yvidero refused to withdraw her complaint because, according to her, she lost 100 million FCFA (151 859,73 Euro), juicy advertising contracts and even a house when business partners were made aware of her cravings for women. "After all, Love Gugu has forever tarnished my reputation," she says.
Can it be argued that the respondent is guilty of defamation, given that the facts before the proceedings took place entirely on French soil where same-sex marriage is permitted? Aware that her complaint would be without merit in France, she introduced it in the Ivory Coast by involving her relations, as is most certainly the case these days.
We all should be outraged that a person prosecuted for defamation, an offence punishable only by a fine of between 1000,000 FCFA and 3000,000Francs CFA according to the Ivorian penal code, should be arrested, detained and thrown into one of the most dangerous prisons in the world, especially when it is well documented that homophobia is rampant in those quaters.
Under no circumstances should "Love Gugu", or anyone for that matter, have found themselves behind bars for defamation, just as in the case of Arlette Zate V Simone Gbagbo.
This abusive practice by the prosecutor's office against Ivorian citizens for extra-judicial reasons is an utter disgrace.
The case for Agustine Love Gugu's freedom is fast garnering support from the LGBT community both in France and Ivory Coast, to rescue one of their very own from the jaws of HATE.
Published By Claude B. Djaquis
Editor-In-Chief on 15/08/[email protected]:54