The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism, Rep. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, says the National Assembly (NASS) is committed to protecting government properties.
Ogbeide-Ihama made this known when members of the committee visited the Arts and Crafts Village on Friday in Abuja.
He said that it was their mandate and oversight function as parliamentarians to ensure that the village and other government properties were protected.
According to him, the land which measures about 23 hectares, belongs to the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and frowned at individuals encroaching on the land.
This, he explained, prompted National Assembly intervention.
“It is possible for the government to acquire lands from individuals, but it is unacceptable for individuals to acquire government property and we will not allow government property to be taken away.
“We have been briefed on the illegal activities going on in the closed arts and crafts village and it is our duty to protect the village.
“This village is the only cultural village the nation has, and globally cultural villages are where tourists shop for arts and crafts, so we are committed in making sure the village is protected from hoodlums and criminals, among others.
“We are endowed with rich cultural heritage and this is the only place we can showcase our God-given heritage and any attempt for continuous encroachment will warrant a call for a public hearing
“No individual is bigger than government and we will ensure that lives and properties are protected when the village is re-opened,” he said.
The chairman, however, commended the management of NCAC for continuous doggedness in securing the village and the Inspector General of Police for their support in safeguarding the village.
Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the Director-General of NCAC, said that the Arts and Crafts village would provide job opportunities for over 500 Nigerians upon re-opening.
Runsewe also said that its management was fighting to retain the village for the benefits of Nigerian children.
He noted that the nearly completed arts and crafts village have 165 shops already and assured that the place would be fully secured when opened for business.
According to him, the village has an upgrade in its facilities such as 20 toilets compared to the previous three toilets, a pharmaceutical shop, a barbershop and a photoshop.
He further said that law and order must be maintained in the village upon opening, adding that there must be time for resumption and closing.
Runsewe, therefore, appreciated the House Committee on Culture and Tourism for their commitment in ensuring that government property was protected.
He also commended the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, for his support and prompt intervention in safeguarding the village.