Alleged corruption: Go to court, Group dares National Theatre GM, others
The Concerned Stakeholders of the National Theatre has advised the embattled General Manager of the agency, Prof Sunday Ododo and other indicted officers in the alleged looting of its assets to seek legal redress in court.
The group had written several petitions to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Prof Ododo detailing how he allegedly mismanaged and misappropriated the funds of the agency and engaged in fraudulent activities.
Corroborating the standpoint of the Stakeholders, the Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers’ Union of Nigeria, (RATTAWU), National Theatre chapter, in another petition dated March 6, 2023 and addressed to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed also detailed how the Prof Ododo-led management team was enmeshed in alleged massive corruption with the General Manager intimidating and harassing staff in the audit and account department for not flowing with the tide of corruption.
Lamenting the impact of the distasteful state of affairs at the parastatal, the Union stated that since ICPC began its investigations into the alleged corruption activities of the GM/CEO, Director P&TTS and the Transport officer, the agency had suffered huge setback.
In an April 5, 2023 rebuttal of the allegations, Prof Ododo through a rejoinder titled; “Re: Revealed! How GM of National Theatre, Prof Ododo loots multimillion naira assets” and signed by the Principal Legal Officer of the agency, Mr Alex Ortav, described the allegations as “malicious attempts by the Concerned Stakeholders of the National Theatre, a group he labelled as faceless, to defame him, Director of Production and Technical Services, Mr Abiodun Abe and the Transport Officer, Mr Ephesian Nodza through false media publications.”
He held that there was nowhere in the referenced Auditor-General’s report he and his team were either alleged or indicted of corruption charges and embezzlement of funds while also insisting that he has neither been invited nor aware of series of petitions purportedly written against him by the group to the anti-graft agencies.
Responding to denial, the Concerned Stakeholders said Ododo’s recourse to playing the victim’s card is laughable while challenging him and his co-defendants to seek legal redress if they felt slandered.
Further buttressing its standpoints, the Group revealed that it is more than ready to prove beyond every reasonable doubt all the allegations of corruption levelled against the General Manager and his co-travellers at the court of law.
The group stated that in the spirit of fair play, justice and equity, the GM should approach the court with the letter issued by the office of the Auditor General absolving him of corruption charges including the letters issued by the Minister and Board of the agency authorising the sales of its artefacts and assets to an auctioneer contracted by Prof Ododo.
The group said: “We strive for justice and fair play but in the course of pushing for this, the General Manager, Prof Ododo felt maligned.
“As a Nigerian, he has every right under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to seek redress at the court of law.
“This will avail him the opportunity to know if truly the Concerned Stakeholders are a faceless group or a group with an identity. The facts are bare to every eye.
” It is glaring how Ododo accompanied by the Technical Director, Abiodun Abe and the Transport Officer, Ephesian Nodza, sold all the artefacts of the FESTAC ’77 and looted all the properties in Carpentry workshop, Mechanical Workshop and the Engineering Workshop.
“The Group made it a point of duty to provide the list of all the items looted by Prof Ododo led management team in series of petitions to the anti-graft Agencies and also to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed.
“And in response to these petitions, the ICPC in January 2023, invited Prof Ododo, Abe and Ephesians to aid the course of the investigation.
“It is however disheartening for them to feign ignorance of the petitions and invitation of the trio by the anti-graft agencies.
“As much as we wouldn’t want to dignify the Principal Legal Officer who was dismissed from the service having absconded and broken the bond he entered into with the management with our response because it is evidently clear that Ortav was a product of Ododo’s questionable administration.
“One wonder how Ortav who was dismissed from the service of the parastatal for gross misconduct and irresponsibility was reabsorbed into the service through the backdoor by Prof Ododo.
“After he had left for many months, he resurfaced when Ododo, Abe and Ephesian were invited for interrogation by the ICPC in January, 2023 as the official lawyer of the trio before the ICPC.
“He was reabsorbed into the service several months after his salary had been stopped by the management.
“This speaks to the question of morality. Ortav was defensive of Ododo and his team because he was a direct beneficiary of the violation of the civil service rules by the GM.
“Therefore we will be glad to meet in court with them to tender our evidences including the petitions and other documents they denied before the jury and for the world to scrutinise.”