Traders of Arts and Crafts Village Abuja petition Senate over shops lockup
Traders of Arts and Crafts Village, Abuja, last week, petitioned the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism towards the re-opening of their shops locked up on 10th February 2018 by the director general of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Mr Otunba Segun Runsewe.
In the petition dated 18th March 2018, addressed to the chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, entitled, ‘Locking of arts and crafts village and rendering over 300 people jobless’, the traders appealed to the committee to intervene in the re-opening of the village.
The traders alleged in the petition that Mr Runsewe stationed a contingent of policemen and private security agents at the gate, and that they were stealing the goods of the traders and turning some shops into chalets.
According to the petition, “We are legally doing the business of promoting Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, thereby boosting the Nigerian tourism industry. This village has been under constant threat of extinction. Our sources of livelihood are confiscated by this action.”
The petition, signed by the association’s president, Nze Kanayo Chukwumezie; secretary Lawal M’hd Shua’ibu, and chairman, Board of Trustees, Alhaji Mustapha Kidama, claimed that over 90% of traders in the village paid their rent up to June 2017 as directed by Mr Runsewe, adding that most of the payments were done between September and December 2017. They further claimed that Mr Runsewe said he would revise the rates for July 2017 upwards, and asked them to wait for further directives.
“This lockup has affected over 2, 000 Nigerians as we have sales people we pay salaries. We also have trainees, families and other dependants that we provide for as well as other social responsibilities. Otunba also illegally used EFCC to freeze our association’s account and the private accounts of our president. Allowing this to continue will mean inflicting more hardship on us and adding to the growing unemployment market.”
Efforts to speak with the head of operations of the board failed as he did not answer his calls as at press time.