Director-General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, has said some people who were bent on dictating what happens at the Art and Craft Village in Abuja, which the NCAC shut, had hatched a plot to jail and oust him from his position.
Runsewe said those behind his travail were angry because the NCAC shut the Art and Craft Village that was being misapplied and occupied by alleged robbers, drug dealers and by other people of questionable character.
Runsewe said this in a statement yesterday in reaction to an order by Justice Jude Okeke of a High Court in Abuja that he be imprisoned for contempt of the court’s order of December 15, 2017, which directed that the facility be reopened.
He said he needed to state his position to stem negative reactions and to “reassure Nigerians that all hands must be on deck to protect the interest of any property that belongs to Nigeria and ensure that they are not misapplied or abused.”
He said the ACV had become a “rented house for hooligans, robbers, criminals and depot for illegal arms, and security threat not only to Abuja residents but also to foreigners who engage in early hours exercises.”
The director general of NCAC, a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism, was sued along with the FCT Minister, the Federal Capital Development Authority and the Minister of Culture and Tourism.
According to Runsewe, “The Art and Craft village (Opposite Abuja Sheraton Hotels) valued at N9.8 billion is the reason behind why some people wanted me hounded into jail and removed from office because I refused to dance to their tune.
“The Art and Craft village was turned into a drug den, a holdbay and rented house for hooligans and criminals. The area had been turned to a depot for illegal arms and sundry criminal activities.
“It is a security threat not only to Abuja residents but also to foreigners who engage in early morning exercises through the street. They were molested by criminals from this location.
“So I wonder why some people are bent on converting government property to a haven of inappropriate engagement. Hence, the police had to close down the place.
“The Art and Craft Village belongs to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It does not belong to me, but to the Nigerian people. So, I would be failing in my duties as a public officer and appointee of government if I cannot protect government property to which I was mandated to oversee. If the area opens for business, it will provide over 300 jobs to Nigerians and reduce crime rate.”