N9.8bn Cultural Village: Runsewe Clears Air, Says Nigeria Must Be Protected

Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News

ABUJA: The Director General, National Council For Art and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, has stated that his current travails is linked to his patriotic desire to protect and defend government property owned by the Council.

Recall that the media was awash on Thursday with stories of Runsewe being jailed by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, for contempt of Court.

It was reported that Justice Jude Okeke gave the order while ruling on a motion drawn from a suit filed by Ummakalif Limited against Minister of the FCT, Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), DG of NCAC, and the Minister for Culture and Tourism, as the first, second, third and fourth defendants respectively.

The court had ordered parties in the suit to stay action on every activity concerning the demolition of the Arts and Craft village located in the Central Business District of the FCT.

Meanwhile, Runsewe while speaking in a world press conference on Friday, disclosed that the property— the Art and Craft village (Opposite Abuja Sheraton) valued at N9.8 billion is the reason some people wanted him hounded into jail and removed from office because he refused to dance to their tunes.

He decried those wishing him jail time for ‘standing against corrupt elements whose personal interests transcends the general good of Nigerians’.

According to him, “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.

“A lot of people are interested to take over the village and that has been a known fact. If the village was in operation, it would have created over 300 jobs for Nigerians. Under my leadership, nobody will take away the responsibility given to me and make me look stupid”, he said.

Runsewe further noted that it is imperative to clear air on this issue to help stem the tide of 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.

Recall that in February 2018, following a tip-off, men attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Federal Capital Territory Command raided the Arts and Craft Village and arrested 92 suspects while recovering incriminating substances including a rifle, forcing the Police to shutdown the Cultural Village.

Further clearing the air over his recent travails in court, Runsewe reiterated that he will not stand idly and allow ‘unscrupulous elements’ hijack government property that was legally put under his care.

In his words, “posterity will judge us if we allow some people turn government property to drug den, a holdbay and rented house for hooligans and criminals.

“A lot of people are interested in taking over the Arts and Craft village for negative activities as we have seen in recent times, some even offered me money to turn a blind eye while they continue their unwholesome activities.

“When we came in, over 26 stolen cars were parked there which we informed the police for investigations.” Runsewe revealed.

The NCAC boss concluded by assuring Nigerians that he remains focused. “For me the future of every Nigerian must be protected. The land is not my father’s land but they want to blackmail us so they can have a field day with government property. We are focused and nothing will distract us from championing the good course for all Nigerians.”

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