The Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, has said vested interests are after him for blocking their attempt to convert government property.
A Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama presided over by Justice Jude Okeke had on Thursday ordered that Runsewe should be remanded in prison “until he purges himself of contempt.”
In a suit filed by Ummakalif Ltd over the sealing of the Arts and Craft Village, Abuja, the court ruled on December 15, 2017, that the status quo be maintained.
Runsewe, however, told The Interview on Thursday night that he was been hunted by “predatory interests.
He was not in any correctional facility at about 7pm on Thursday when he took our call.
“They want to take over government property and I refused; they even offered me bribe, I refused”, Runsewe said. “That is why they are after me. That is all. It’s not my personal property; it’s government property and all I’m fighting for is to protect what belongs to the government. That is why they are after me.”
He said that at the last valuation, the property (opposite Sheraton Abuja) was valued at N9.8billion and some people wanted to lay their hand on the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and convert the property.
He said, “When I mobilised the police to clear the place in 2017, the police met armed robbers in the place. The had to clear the place and I took steps to secure it and seal it up.
“The people went to court and said the court ordered that not only should the shacks built by the squatters be restored, the roofs should also be restored – that is what they meant by status quo. It’s government property; the C of O has been secured, but some people want to forcefully convert it.”
Runsewe said he had the order of the court and it did not commit him to prison.
The claimant, Ummakalif, had sought an order of court to commit Runsewe to prison for being in breach of an order of court that the status quo be maintained.
Justic Okeke reportedly ruled that the order of commital for contempt was necessary “to serve as a deterrent to others who abuse their office and disobey court orders with disdain.”