The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa says the agency she heads no longer has an office to operate from.
In a video published on Twitter by NIDCOM, Dabiri-Erewa accused the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami of ordering gunmen to throw out NIDCOM staff from the office the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) gave to them.
She also said the armed men did not allow them to take their properties before they sealed the office.
She said, “In one year, we don’t have an office. The office we got, given to us by NCC but we were actually driven away by the honourable minister of communications and digital economy, Mr Isa Pantami, within two days, they drove us out with guns and what happened? The place was given to us by NCC.
“You know we all help each other, NCC as an agency of government, said there is a place you can use to settle in, and just as we settled in, I was in Ethiopia when I got a call. I thought that it was a joke. I came back from Ethiopia on Thursday, this happened on Tuesday, by Friday when I went to the office, guns, armed men had taken over the place. I thought it was a joke, but here is the thing, I’m a government employee, so is he. It’s government business.”
She said the commission has petitioned the appropriate authorities about the incident and has decided to let the matter be.
“I have complained officially but we let it be. He wants the place, let him take it. That place is still there, a whole floor is still vacant. As I speak with you all our items are locked up. I don’t have a computer, I don’t have printers, everything has been locked up.
“So after COVID-19, we are hoping that we can get a space and move in. These things locked are personal printers, personal laptops of our very dedicated staff because when you are just starting a lot of things are not there.”
Another video tweeted by the commission showed some staff members of the agency and the secretary of NIDCOM addressing them shortly after they were allegedly denied access to their office.
This according to the tweet happened on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
Communications minister reacts
Reacting to the allegation by Dabiri-Erewa, the minister described her claim as a fat lie, saying he has never given directives to any gunman to chase NIDCOM staff from their office.
He tweeted, "THIS IS A FAT LIE FROM HER: The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms. The minister has never given that directives to any gunman. We need to be very objective in reporting. I have never sent any gunmen there, & I have no one."
The NCC also reacts, says NIDCOM was not sent packing
Reacting to the allegations against the minister of communication, the NCC said NIDCOM was not sent packing from its complex.
The NCC’s director of public affairs, Henry Nkemadu said the communication commission had already got approval for the inauguration of the complex by President Muhammadu Buhari at the time the office was offered to NIDCOM.
According to him, this led to some hiccups as a result of the preparations for the president’s visit.
He said, “The NCC has not withdrawn the offer but had hiccups arising from the preparation for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the Communications and Digital Economy Complex and launch of other projects relating to the mandate of government.
“Incidentally, after the offer of the office spaces to the NDC, the Director-General, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa had not visited the Complex to take possession of any of the offices and also the Commission had not started using any of these spaces as offices.
“As is usual in ensuring security and accountability before, during and after presidential visits, the building had to be cleared to allow for only known and identifiable persons to have access within the Complex.
“Therefore, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, could not have sent armed men to drive the staff of the Diaspora Commission out of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex.”
The NCC is an agency under the ministry of communications.