Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, has said he is being persecuted for not allowing some forces to take over the Arts and Craft Village, Abuja.
Runsewe also said his tenacity to ensure that the Arts and Craft village was not taken over by people with inordinate ambition was not personal, but to ensure that the village was kept for current and future generations of Nigeria.
He attributed his current travails to his patriotic desire to protect and defend Government’s property owned by the NCAC.
Recall that Justice Jude Okeke of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had on Thursday ordered that Runsewe be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services for contempt of court.
The order of Justice Okeke followed a motion from a suit filed by Ummakalif Limited against Runsewe and three others over the sealing of the Arts and Crafts village in Abuja.
Runsewe who briefed journalists in Abuja, said it was a known fact that a lot of people were interested in taking over the Arts and Craft village. He added that if the facility is in operation, it will create over 300 jobs for the country.
Runsewe disclosed that the expanse of land where the Arts and Craft village is situated worth is N9.8 billion, adding that that was how so many government property have been taken over.
“But under my leadership, like you all know, nobody will take away the responsibility given to me and make me look stupid at the end of the day,” Runsewe vowed.
Speaking further, Runsewe said posterity will judge all Nigerians if they continue to allow the nation’s property to be destroyed.
He said the Arts and Craft village was where a lot of interests were, revealing that the village used to be part of Silverbird, Yar’Adua Center and Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).
Runsewe said every part of the world have their cultural outfits, saying “but today, we don’t even have one.” He added that the village, was hitherto known as cultural arena.
The President of the World Crafts Council also revealed that upon assumption of office as Director-General of NCAC, he was offered money in order to look at the other side and not focus on the atrocities being committed at the Arts and Craft Village, but refused the offer.
“The head of drug sellers was in that place. The headquarters of drug in Abuja was in that building. When we took over, we met over 26 stolen cars inside that place. The journalists that went there saw it, not that I am telling you stories. The police met AK-47 guns in that place. Is that good for Abuja Master Plan?
“What is the future of our children if we allow this to be happening? So, it is important to tell Nigerians that what Otunba Runsewe is struggling and fighting for is what others have been afraid to focus on,” Runsewe also said.
While saying that the land was for Nigerians, Runsewe insisted that what he was fighting for was Nigeria’s land. “That land is for Nigeria. What I am fighting for is Nigeria’s land. It is not my father’s land. And they know. The plan is, if we remove Otunba and blackmail him, we will take over that place with anybody that comes.
“But journalists can hear it from me today that that land remains NCAC property. And the problem, I must tell you is, how can somebody who does not have legal documents for the land be challenging us on the land? I think it is unheard of.
“However, that will not change us. I want all of you to understand today that nothing, nothing, I repeat, can distract the focus of what we are,” Runsewe declared.