Published On: Wed, Aug 9th, 2017

NCAC raids Art Village ahead of Abuja crafts expo

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Stories by Stanley Onyekwere

Officials of the National Council for Arts and Culture of Nigeria (NCAC) have intensified raid on Abuja Arts and Craft village, near Yar’Adua Centre, aimed at sanitizing the place, ahead of the forthcoming African Art and crafts expo, slated for August 27-September 17.
The officials with help of policemen deployed by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the area, were able to clear hoodlums from the place within three days.
It was gathered that over three hundred occupants use the place for a dual purpose- as they sale in the morning and sleep at night, without corresponding facilities.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday, Director General of NCAC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, decried that operators of the place had deviated from its original purpose.
He revealed that hitherto to ongoing raid, there were increasing nefarious activities happening there, which needed to be cleared.
“We realized that the highest numbers of drug peddlers reside here; also robbers were caught with guns in the booth of a car parked here; stolen cars are parked, and prostitution and other nefarious activities go on here.
“At nights, a minimum of 120 cars are parked in the place, and almost about 60 0f them have no owners. So if criminals steal somebody’s car in Wuse, it will be brought here.
“Most people who patronize the place are foreigners, and these leave this country with a lasting impression, which is not good for all of us.
He continues: “Nigeria must not be seen as a disorganize country, that’s why we are putting the place in order.
“We will sustain the effort to sanitise the place; we already have police post assigned by the Commissioner of Police.”
The NCAC boss alleged that although Art Village has been in contention for the past three years, the private operator had been making N15 million annually as rent on the property, despite it been in court.
According to him, each of the huts is officially rented by government at N46, 000, but they were actually given out for as high as N500, 000, by the operator.
“There is no crisis in the place. We are just trying to move Nigeria forward, in line with the change mantra of the government, so what is on ground is the change process.
“We have been having DGs who perhaps were shying away from their responsibilities.
“Of course, I’m not one of such, that’s why I took the bull by the horn, and said all these must stop.Nobody sleeps here after August 13,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, MD Umma Khalif ltd, the private developer of the facility, denied that there were no nefarious activities in the place, prior to the raid.
He said: “It is a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) project, so we got our resources to build the place.
“We are collecting rent because the company had spent money to build the place, can’t we get back the money we have invested in the place?”
On the allegation of over 300 occupants living in the place, he said: “ we have never had such case of people sleeping here ,because there is no way seven people are sharing a shop and they would be able to sleep there, those that sleep are on the side of NCAC premises.
“And the issue of parking stolen cars, they are part of the things happen in section being managed by the NCAC. They are the ones having this problem.”

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