…We were forcefully evicted from NCC annex building on orders of Communications minister – NIDCOM
…NCC: It’s a lie, NIDCOM had not started using any of the offices allocated to it at our building
Two Federal Government agencies, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) and the the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on Sunday, exchanged words on the social media over alleged forced eviction of NIDCOM staff from NCC building in Abuja.
Our correspondent reports that the disagreement began when the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on Sunday, shared a video on Twitter that the agency no longer had an office from which to operate.
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.”
Mrs Dabiri-Erewa further said that she has complained to the relevant body.
“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.”
However, contrary to the position of the Director-General of the Nigerians Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that the evacuation of the commission from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) building was punitive, the NCC has debunked CEO’s claim, stating its commitment to strategic collaboration and partnership with agencies of government to the extent allowed by relevant laws.
Also, in its response to a viral video on social media alleging that the Nigerian Diaspora Commission was ignominiously thrown out of the NCC building, the NCC in a statement made available to the Daily Times on Sunday by its Director of Publicity, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, said it is important that the general public is acquiesced with what really transpired with regard to the incident leading to the evacuation of the Diaspora Commission from the NCC building.
According to the NCC, following the completion of the NCC building at Mbora, Abuja designated as NCC Annex and the acute shortage of accommodation space for the staff of the commission in the NCC Head Office at Maitama, Abuja, the Board of the commission directed the decongestion of the Head Office Building.
It added that some of the departments of the NCC had started moving to the new office complex of Five (5) Floors when discussions were held between the NCC and the Diaspora Commission to allow it also utilise any free offices within the complex, noting that the fifth floor allocated to them had to be used to accommodate other departments from the NCC headquarters to ease the congestion.
The NCC explained further that during this period, the NCC secured approval for the commissioning of the office complex by the President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari and the launch of four important projects of the NCC and the renamed Ministry of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMC&DE).
The projects, according to the NCC, approved for the launch were: launch and the unveiling of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025; Commissioning of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex; launch of the Emergency Communications Centre and toll-free number 112 and flag-off of the Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training.
The NCC said these important projects are a culmination of extensive collaboration between NCC and the other parastatals of the FMC&DE.
The statement read in part: “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 other projects relating to the mandate of government.
The Board and Management of the NCC took a decision to ensure that every activity in the building was in line with the Federal Government’s digital agenda.
“Incidentally, after the offer of the office spaces to the Diaspora Commission, 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 like 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.
“At this time, only NCC Staff were accredited to have access within these premises as required by the security officials. All the properties belonging to the Diaspora Commission are safely warehoused in some of the Offices in the Complex.
This is contrary to the position of the Director General of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa that the removal of her Commission from the building was punitive.
“This is not the correct position and we agree with her that there are always challenges in every human activity but the unforeseen challenges that arose, in this case, are not different and require an understanding of all concerned.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the allegation of forced eviction of NIDCOM for the NCC building in Abuja, the Minister of Communication, Isa Pantami, in a tweet on Sunday, said: “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.”
However, in a statement issued on Sunday in response to NCC’s statement, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, NIDCOM’s head of media and public relations, restated that they were forcefully evicted from the annex.
“On the 9th of February, the staff were given one week by the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Pantami, to pack out but within 48 hours of the said quit notice, they were forcefully evicted by security operatives attached to the complex on the orders of the Minister on February 11,” the statement read.
The commission further said that the “allegation that NIDCOM did not move into the office when allocated, this is untrue, false accusation and contradictory to the statement of NCC to the effect that NIDCOM properties were warehoused and intact in the annex.”