Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC have arrested four directors of the National Theatre in Lagos for alleged misappropriation of government funds.
The directors, including a woman, were picked up at their Iganmu office for diverting “huge sums” of revenue and statutory allocation into private use.
The directors were said to have failed to convey revenues realized from the use of facilities at the National Theatre into the federal government treasury single account, TSA.
According to the EFCC, among government revenue allegedly embezzled were N24 million annual rent paid by Nigerian Breweries for its 20 branded kiosks and N9 million paid for the use of National Theatre during the “Lagos @ 50” celebrations.
It was gathered that the affected directors were jerked out of the premises after they turned down EFCC’s invitation for questioning in the office of the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre, Tar Ukoh.
Addressing an anti-corruption rally earlier in the premises, Ukor vowed to stamp out graft in the agency.
“Culture must kill corruption before corruption kills culture.” Ukoh, who also oversees the National Troupe of Nigeria said.
Henry Udubuisi, Vice President of the National Theatre chapter of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services AUPCTRE reacted to the development saying, the union was behind the management’s decision to get rid the agency of corruption.
Udubuisi said the union would give its support to the new management to cleanse the agency of graft.
“The position of the union is that we are solidly behind the management to fight corruption in National Theatre. We are also proud to be associated with it.
“We are using this medium to appreciate the management on its “Change must begin with me project.
“The Artistic Director means well; he wants to address some administrative impunity here.
“He is not victimizing anybody, he is just asking them to be accountable for what has happened for those who has questions to answer. We need someone like him here to stamp out corruption.
“The union will never condone corruption; infact the union stands against corruption and we are happy that the management key into our vision,” he said.
Udubuisi said the union had been in the fight against corruption before the new management came in, adding that it was a step in the right direction.
“The union has been fighting corruption even before the new management came in, especially when there was a proposal on the sale of the theatre.
“We fought against what we regarded to as administrative impunity under the then Chief Executive but all what we got was dismissal.
“Most of the executive members of the union were dismissed for standing against corruption and the sale of the only cultural iconic building in Nigeria,” he said.
When the EFCC spokesman in Lagos, Sam Amadin was contacted, he said he was yet to be briefed on the arrest.
- Chinwe Aguobi