THE House of Representatives has vowed to reclaim the entire land originally allocated to the National Council for Arts and Culture, for the construction of its Abuja Arts and Crafts Village.
The lawmakers expressed concern that the land is now being encroached by individuals and corporate bodies, describing the act as a national embarrassment.
The House made its position known at a meeting with the Management of the NCAC led by its Director General, Otunba Segun Runsewe at a public hearing organised in Abuja over the true situation of things at the village now under lock and key on the orders of the police.
Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism, Honourable Omorege Ogbeide -Ihama, also said that the parliament was solidly in support of the presence of police personnel at the village and commended the prompt action taken by the police to secure the national edifice being used by criminals as hideouts.
Ogbeide –Ihama, said the agency’s management was summoned to enable the committee find out why the village was under lock and key so that “we can take a bold step towards securing what belongs to the nation from private individuals and corporate bodies who illegally acquired the village for private use”.
He said: “having listened to the Director General of the NCAC, we are directing him now to liaise with the police so that police personnel will continue to guard the village while all things are being sorted out and to ensure that all those arrested at the place with weapons are prosecuted according to the law of the land”.
The committee wondered how individuals and private bodies were now claiming the ownership of the vast land meant for the agency without any action to stop it from its previous management and promised that officials found culpable on the matter would be severely punished.
Earlier, the Director General of the agency, Runsewe had raised the alarm over the large-scale encroachment on the land of the agency allocated for the construction of an International Arts and Crafts Village and the taking over of the national edifice by hoodlums, pleading for the prompt intervention of the National Assembly to reclaim the place.
Runsewe said: “On assumption of office last year as Director General of the NCAC, I met over 37 abandoned cars believed to have been stolen, over 300 persons were sleeping in the village and every day, we normally have over 20 cases of armed robberies, the place is very close to the Sheraton Hotels, and the criminals normally harass the foreigners lodging there after which they will run for cover at the village”.
He told the committee that it was appalling that some individuals wrote to about 79 embassies soliciting for aides to renovate the village without our knowledge or passing through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which was wrong.”
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