The African Arts and Culture Heritage Association (ACCHA) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the Director-General of National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Runsewe to open the Abuja Arts and Craft Village to allow its members to continue with their trade.
The President of AACHA, Nze Kanayo Chukwumezie, said this at a media conference with Newsmen on Monday in Abuja.
Chukwumezie in company of his Secretary, Lawal Shuaibu Mohammed and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Alhaji Mustapha Kidama, said Feb. 10, made it five years that the village was locked up.
The AACHA President alleged that Runsewe had been spreading untrue stories, so as to drive away the artisans who were doing their legitimate Arts and Crafts work in the village.
“On the night of 16 December, 2017, mysterious fire burnt down some of the shops in the village.
”Prior to that, Runsewe banned people from.workimg beyond 6p.m and that no one should stay there after 7p.m.
“While we were making effort to help those whose shops were burnt, Mr Runsewe was stylishly pushing us out in the guise of renovation, which five years after, he did not do.
“Our members were arrested and locked up at SARS facility without committing any crime. Corporate Affairs Commission was written to withdraw and cancel our certificate of incorporation. All these were done to discredit us and give is bad name.
“For the past five years, some of our members have lost their lives, because, their source of livelihood has been locked up in the Abuja Arts and Crafts Village by Mr Runsewe. We have made several peaceful efforts but to no avail.
“We are begging President Muhammadu Buhari to please prevail on Mr Runsewe to open the gates of the Abuja Arts and Crafts Village to allow our members go back and continue their works to feed their families, as it has not been easy,” Chukwumezie pleaded.
The ACCHA President said on this 5th anniversary of locking of the Crafts Village, they want the world to know that they were being hunted and hounded as animals by someone who claim to be above the law.
“Runsewe has defiled a court order of 15th December, 2017 and 7th February, 2018 not to lock the Abuja Arts and Crafts Village; and another judgement on 9th January, 2020 that ordered that he be remanded in Kuje Prisons for contempt of court.
“However, we plan to invoke these court orders and judgement and also caution him not to make any funny move on the village,” the AACHA President said.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that in 2018, Runsewe alleged that the Abuja Arts and Crafts Village was used for sale of illicit drugs and also as a hide out for kidnappers, armed robbers and stolen vehicles.
According to Runsewe, stolen vehicles were recovered from the Abuja Arts and Crafts Village and drug peddlers were arrested with drugs, guns and other dangerous weapons and hence decided to close the village. (NAN)