Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), says her commission no longer has an office.
Highlighting the challenges of NIDCOM, she said the agency has been carrying on despite setbacks.
Dabiri-Erewa, who spoke in a video tweeted by NIDCOM, accused Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, of ordering gunmen to throw out the agency from an office that the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) gave to them.
The chairperson said staff were not even allowed to take their property after armed men sealed the office.
The office complex located at Mbora district in the federal capital territory (FCT) is an annex of NCC’s head office.
NCC is an agency under the communications ministry.
As with every path to success challenges are bond to surface what have been the major challenges since the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission - Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission. pic.twitter.com/Ez6qAR1mJ9— Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (@nidcom_gov) May 23, 2020
“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.”
Dabiri-Erewa said she has petitioned the appropriate authorities about the incident.
“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.”
‘NIDCOM WAS NOT SENT PACKING’
In response to the allegation, The NCC said NIDCOM was not sent packing from its complex.
Henry Nkemadu, NCC’s director of public affairs, said at the time the office space was offered to NIDCOM, the communications commission had already got approval for the inauguration of the complex by President Muhammadu Buhari and these led to some “hiccups.”
“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.”
The director said NIDCOM’s properties are safely warehoused in some of the offices in the complex.
When contacted Yusuf Ribadu, media aide to Pantami, referred this reporter to NCC’s statement.