Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), says her commission was forcefully sent packing by a minister.
Speaking in a video tweeted by NIDCOM, Abike-Dabiri accused Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, of using gunmen to evict the agency’s staff from an office that was allocated to them by the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC).
According to her, staff were not even allowed to take their property before the office located at Mbora district in the federal capital territory (FCT).
“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,” she said.
“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 a government business.”
“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 computer, I don’t have printers, everything has been locked up,” she said.
“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.”
The NCC, however, debunked claims that NIDCOM staff were sent away from its complex, according to theCable.
Henry Nkemadu, NCC’s director of public affairs, said, “The NCC has not withdrawn the offer but had hiccups arising from the preparation for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the Communications and Digital Economy Complex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,” Nkemadu said.
“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.”