LAGOS - The ongoing perimeter fencing of the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos is brewing crisis between the management of the theatre and members of the nearby Ijora community.
Reports say that the crisis stemmed from the decision of the National Theatre Management to block a path leading to Ijora in the course of the fencing.
The portion of the fence which blocked the exit was allegedly pulled down twice by people suspected to be members of the community.
Last week, the General Manager of the National Theatre, Malam Kabiru Yusuf, allegedly slapped an actor, Victor Eze, while inspecting the fencing project, as a result of the conflict.
It was learnt that Yusuf felt that Eze had taken sides with members of the community on the issue.
It was also learnt that the General Manager has also directed demolition of illegal structures within the premises of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and the Artists Village.
The NCAC and the Artists Village are within the National Theatre Complex.
Mr Toyin Mohammed, the Assistant General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the National Theatre, said on Friday that the blocked entrance had been porous.
He alleged that miscreants entered into the complex through the path.
Mohammed said that some of the miscreants had built illegal structures within and outside the village, and that they engaged in activities inimical to the security of the Theatre Complex.
He listed the activities as rearing pigs, goats and other animals which, he said, strayed within the complex.
“ The main objective of the perimeter fencing is to ensure that this place is safe and secure, but it is quite shocking that some elements are trying to frustrate the efforts.
“The place is meant to be an office but most people have turned it residential, building illegal structures and dumping refuse to block the drains,” he said.
Mohammed disclosed that Yusuf had traveled for lesser hajj, and that he would comment further on the crisis when he returned.
Efforts to get the reactions of the Ijora Community were fruitless as the community’s spokesman, simply called Mohammed, was unavailable, due to the Ramadan fasting.
However, a member of the community, who preferred anonymity, told NAN that the National Theatre Management disregarded appeals by the community not to block the path with fence.
“ We have resigned to fate, if they want to block it, we cannot stop them, we are not the only one to suffer the consequences, some of them do make use of the entrance too.
“ Some of their workers pass through this place, some even come to pray in our mosques and eat in our canteens,’’ he said.