The chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practises and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), has been urged to investigate alleged misappropriation of funds and looting of assets and artefacts at the National Theatre.
A group, the Concerned Stakeholders of the National Theatre, made this known in a petition signed by its secretary, Hon. Lekan Ayinde, and sent to the Minister of Art, Culture, and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, and the ICPC.
The group alleged that since the handing over of the National Theatre to the Banker’s Committee in February 2021 for rehabilitation, the Prof. Sunny Ododo-led management team has been on a looting spree of funds and valuable assets and artefacts.
Ayinde, however, called on the Chairman of the ICPC to investigate these allegations to recover all the looted assets.
The petition partly reads, “We, the Concerned Stakeholders of the National Theatre, hereby call for the immediate suspension of the General Manager of the National Theatre, Prof. Sunny Ododo, and his accomplices for alleged professional recklessness and misappropriation of funds of the parastatal.
The GM has violated the civil service rules by denoting senior officers and harassing and intimidating workers without any consideration for due process. He also sold historic assets and artefacts, especially the FESTAC’77 artefacts.”
Highlighting other infractions committed by Ododo, Ayinde revealed that “Professor Ododo awarded a consultancy contract for the training of management staff to his allies for N10 million with various forms of irregularities.
There is also the Auditor-General’s report on the audit of procurement, personnel accounts, and internally generated revenue of the National Theatre, which indicted the General Manager, but this was swept under the carpet.
On this ground, we, the Concerned Stakeholders of the National Theatre, called for the suspension of Prof. Sunny Ododo to pave the way for an unbiased investigation of the allegations of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds levelled against him.
We are also calling on the chairman of the ICPC to take up this investigation for Lagos, where the ICPC seems to have compromised.”
In a related development, the Radio, Television, Theatre, and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU), National Theatre chapter, has lent its voice to the call for the immediate suspension of its General Manager, Prof. Sunny Ododo, over alleged staff intimidation and prevailing challenges of corruption and mismanagement of funds in the parastatal.
In its petition written to the immediate past Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, and signed by its Chairman, Comrade Habib Usman, and Secretary, Comrade Monday Alonge, the Union expressed worries and fears over the extent of the setback the National Theatre has suffered since the Independent Corrupt Practises and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) began investigations into the activities of the GM/CEO, Director P&TTS, and the Transport Officer.
The Union also alleged continued intimidation and harassment of Account, finance, and Audit staff by Prof. Ododo following their refusal to assist in illegally clearing their uncleared deals and retiring the same.
However, it urged the new Minister of Art, Culture, and Creative Economy, Hajia Hanatu Musawa, to suspend Prof. Ododo until after the investigation is completed and he is cleared by the anti-corruption agency.
Meanwhile, the General Manager, Prof. Ododo, has dismissed all the allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds levelled against him as fallacies, saying they are lacking in merit.
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