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Published On: Fri, Feb 14th, 2020

N9.8bn Art/Craft village: Reps read riot act trespassers

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By Mashe Umaru Gwamna

The House of Representatives has warned individuals trespassers and encroaching into the Arts and Craft Village in Abuja valued at N9.8 billion should desist from such attitude.
The lower legislative chamber which confirmed that arms and ammunition have been recovered by security agencies in the place, therefore warned that no individual should trespass on government property saying such moves would be resisted.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism, Omorogie Ogbeide-Ihama, stated these during an oversight visit for an on-the-spot assessment of the land estimated to be 23,000 hectares of land.
Ogbeide-Ihama said, “Our findings revealed that the Arts and Craft Village have become a place for hoodlums where victims of kidnappers were abandoned for several weeks and arms and ammunition recovered.
“We are aware by law that government can actually acquire land from individuals but the reverse is the case where individuals acquire land from government and this is unacceptable. The National Assembly will not fold its hands and watch government property sold to individuals.
“We will resist the attempt to concede government property into the hands of individuals. Our duties as representatives of Nigerians is to stand and speak for Nigerians. This Arts and Craft Village is the only cultural village in the entire country and we will do everything to protect it.
“We will guide our culture and heritage; Arts and Culture Village is a place where we can showcase our God-given heritage. So, we will resist its illegal take over and any attempt to continue encroachment in this land, we will call for public hearing for the public to be aware of what individuals are doing.”
During the inspection of village, Director-General of National Centre for Arts and Culture Otunba Runsewe, said no individual should claim to be bigger than government.
Runsewe said, “Nobody stones an unripe mango, I’m ripe enough to be stoned and that will not stop me. This place must be returned back for the benefit of Nigerians. .
“We want to give Nigerians the true picture of what is going on. The NCAC management has ensured that the Arts and Craft Village is being modernised. What we are fighting for is for our children’s future.
“It is a shame on us that we are the only country in West Africa that doesn’t have Arts and Craft Village. The Chinese government gave us money to develop the Arts and Craft Village and the money was kept for nine years. When it was not utilised, they took it back and gave it Sierra Leone.”
It could be remembered that Peoples Daily reported a few weeks ago, that Runsewe defended the closure of the Art and Craft Village, saying it had become a den of robbers and illicit drugs sale.
He was reacting to the directive by Justice Jude Okeke of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, which ordered that he should be sent to prison for alleged contempt and disobedience to an order made by the court on December 15, 2017.
The order for Runsewe to be sent to prison, was sequel to a suit filed by a firm, Ummakalif Limited, for the sealing of the Art and Crafts Village in Abuja, citing alleged violation of the contractual agreement to develop a part of the area.
But Runsewe linked his travails to his patriotic desire to protect and defend the property of the Federal Government owned by the NCAC.

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