By Lamin Cham
The Standard has been reliably informed that the planned renaming of the Arch 22 to the Memorial Arch has been put on hold. The initiative to rename the edifice, located right at the entrance of the capital, was started by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission which involved the National Center for Arts and Culture, Civil Society Organizations, the Banjul City Council among others in its coordinating committee.
The event was scheduled for June 28 when the Arch would be renamed Memorial Arch where victims of the Jammeh regime would have their names and or pictures displayed for posterity.
However soon after The Standard published a report of the planned event, this paper got reliable information that the event has now been put on hold on the advice of the Ministry of Justice.
The Standard contacted the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dawda Jallow who confirmed that his ministry had called the TRRC to put the process on hold. Asked what led to that, the AG alleged that the Ministry of Justice as the line ministry for the TRRC was not consulted. “Everything about the TRRC is channeled through us as the line ministry. Surprisingly on this particular issue, I only saw it in your newspaper. We were not in the picture. So, I had to call them and say that renaming a major national asset like that and for a decision like that for the TRRC to be working with whoever they are working with to rename that, the ministry should not be unaware of it and our findings revealed that there are laid down rules for all these renamings that happened which include going to cabinet to seek approval and things like that. That did not happen in this case. Even the honour has not been extended to the president. The president is not even aware. We all saw it in the newspaper on Monday. So of course, it cannot proceed and we had to tell them that if they want to do that, they would have to officially write to the Ministry requesting for it. Though they told me they are working with the NCAC which the facility is under, but either way, you cannot leave the line ministry out. So that’s why it cannot proceed,” the Attorney General argued. He said even the date proposed, June 28 would not meet the president and himself in town [away in Saudi Arabia].
The minister however further stated that the TRRC had an option anyway to include this proposal in their recommendation and it would then be considered along with other recommendations.
The Standard then contacted the director of communications at the TRRC, Essa Jallow who said as far as this matter is concerned, the TRRC has done all what it needed to do about this, such as informing all stake-holders. He continued: “We have informed our line ministry- Justice and also the Ministry of Tourism. “An aide-memoire was written to them all, including even BCC and also an MoU was signed between the commission and the NCAC. So, if the information did not get to Barrow, that would not be our problem because we do not directly correspond with the president. And in any case, Government can be represented by another official or officials,” Essa Jallow said.