“You disrespected me because I’m a woman,” Abike Dabiri tells Minister of Communication, Pantami

Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has said the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, disrespected her because she is a woman.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and NIDCOM have been at war over office spaces at the NCC building in Abuja.

Dabiri-Erewa had on Saturday alleged that armed security operatives acting on the orders of Pantami chased NIDCOM staff out of an office allocated to it at the NCC building by the Federal Government.

The NCC disproved the allegations in a statement on Sunday.

Responding on Sunday to a report about the incident, Pantami said on Twitter that Dabiri-Erewa made up the story.

“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,” he wrote.

The NIDCOM boss replied: “An Islamic scholar should not lie Hon Minister. (Ph.D) You did that to me cos I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary Left the ugly incident behind me since Feb. But pls release all our office equipment. Public office is transient. @DrIsaPantami.”

Meanwhile, NIDCOM in a statement on Sunday by its spokesman, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, responded to the NCC which described the incident as ‘allegations’ in a statement earlier in the day.

The NIDCOM statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement signed by Dr Henry Nkemadu, Director of Public Affairs of Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) on Sunday May 24, 2020 describing the forcing out of the staff of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) from the occupied fifth floor of NCC Annex Mbora as mere ‘allegation’.

“The fact of the matter is that the said fifth floor was allocated to NIDCOM by NCC Management since June 2019 and handed over by Mrs Maryam Bayi, its Director Human Resources.

“But due to lack of basic facilities in the complex, NIDCOM staff could not move in gradually until October 2019.

“But while our Chairman/CEO Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa was on official assignment with Mr President in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, 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.

“On the allegation that NIDCOM did not move into the offices 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.”

NIDCOM said its offices were broken into and “all items including 140 work stations, personal computers, printers, sensitive documents and personal belongings of staff were carted away.”

The statement continued: “It is our humble opinion that an agency of government ought not to be shabbily treated in a dehumanising manner.

“The Hon. Minister, should have acknowledged the fact that the aim of NIDCOM for using the office spaces was not for personal functions but rather for governmental functions with regards to Diaspora engagements.

“The Hon. Minister should have seen the need to give the Chairman of the Commission audience so as to let the Commission staff evacuate their belongings by themselves rather than breaking into the offices without their consent.

“The Commission still has no access to all equipment, furniture and other items carted away on the instructions of the Minister.

“However, the commission has since moved on, and put the ugly incident behind it as it looks forward to settling into any available office space after the COVID-19 lockdown.”

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