Runsewe, Police Trade Words On The Closure Of Abuja Arts And Crafts Village
The intrigues over the shutting down of Abuja Arts and Crafts Village took a new twist yesterday when the director general of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, blamed the Nigeria Police for the continued closure of the village against the orders of an Abuja High Court. The police however said the village would only reopen through the directive of the NCAC director general.
Recall that the village was shut in February a day after a high court in Abuja restrained the NCAC from taking any action against it pending the determination of the traders’ petition.
Otunba had claimed the closure of the village was a result of a raid by the police where firearms and hard drugs were recovered from the place, a statement the traders allege was framed up to evict them from the place.
Lawal Shuaibu Mohammed, secretary of African Arts and Cultural Heritage Association, said they were allocated the place in 2009 to build 35 shops on a build, operate and transfer basis for 25 years.
“We constructed up to 21 shops. By 2013, the then minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, decided to transfer the ownership of the village from FCT to Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.”
The traders then instituted a case against the minister of the FCT, the Federal Capital Development Authority, the National Council for Arts and Culture, and co-joined the minister of tourism and culture as defendants, in a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja. The court issued an order that restrained NCAC from evicting them and also restrained them from continuing the developments.”
It was gathered that past bosses of the NCAC observed the court order issued in 2013 until June 2017 when Otunba Runsewe became the DG in March 2017.
The president of the AACHA, Nze Kanayo Chukwumezie, said police arrested their members who were guarding the market since the December 11, 2017 fire incidents that razed down 35 shops in the market and destroyed multimillion naira goods. He said the NCAC officials were escorted by truck loads of police personnel drawn from various police divisions.
The traders had on February 5 petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to unfreeze the account of their association and those of their president as a result of the faceoff.
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