This month, January will make it one year since the destruction of artist village at the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu.
Despite the intervention of Prof Wole Soyinka and hopes raised by Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed that the affected artistes would be compensated, nothing has been done.
One of the affected occupants, Kingsley Agubom, a movie producer/director popularly known as ‘Kurious K’ has recounted how it happened, while reminding the minister of his promise that yet unfulfilled.
According to him, “January 2017 will mark one year that the Artist Village was destroyed.
“That day was a Saturday morning. 5.30 am, a client who came all the way from Owerri (Imo State, Nigeria) called me on phone and told me that he just arrived Lagos and he was waiting for me at my office, I jumped up from my bed, took my bath, brushed my teeth and went to my office. When I got to my office at about 7.30am, I saw more than 20 armed police officers and a bulldozer destroying the artist village, National Theatre, Lagos where my office is situated.
“I was amazed because there was no prior notice to us about the destruction. I asked the police what was going on but none of them answered me. After the destruction of our art works and the buildings, there was exchange of words between the police and artists, suddenly the police opened fire on the artists, we ran for our dear lives and some of us were injured. An artist was also shot on the leg in the incident.
“The injury I sustained was so painful that I wept for two straight days like a baby. On that same day the incident happened, few hours later, Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamed came with his entourage. Fresh blood was still flowing out from our injuries, no first aid yet. We were still very confused about the entire situation.
“The minister told us that he did not instruct anybody to destroy the village. I was very annoyed when Lai Mohamed saw my injury and tears on my eyes and told me that my injury was small, immediately he told me that, I started believing that the Minister must be a very wicked man. And again I expected him to support us in the treatment of our injuries but he only gave us sweet words that he will make sure that the artists welfare is well protected which he never did.
“The Minister came another day and told us that he will build temporary structures for the artists whom their structures, properties and art works were destroyed and as well compensate all the affected victims. He went as far as asking us to write all our damages and the total amount sent to him through the artist village management which we did without delay. Professor Wole Soyinka invited us, we went and he promised to mediate between Nigerian artists and the Federal Government of Nigeria, but up till now nothing has happened. The minister has not fulfilled any of his promises. All the artists whom their workshops, properties and artworks were destroyed are still stranded outside, waiting for the minister to redeem his promises.
“All the same, I thank God for my life today. God has blessed me, my business is doing well. Show-business has transformed my life. God bless Nigeria.”