Nigeria’s top officials, Comms Minister Pantami, NIDCOM’s Dabiri-Erewa fight on Twitter over eviction from office

Isa Pantami and Abike Dabiri-Erewa

Two top officials of the Nigerian government, a cabinet minister, and chairman of a parastatal have engaged in public outburst over issues related to eviction from a public office.

The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had, on Sunday, on Twitter, accused the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, of employing gunmen to forcefully evict NIDCOM staff from their office at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

ALSO READ: Financial pressure from mum made me fake my death —  Margret Ikumu, Nigerian teenager

Consequently, Abike Dabiri-Erewa in a multiple of tweets she posted on her Twitter handle accused Pantami of ill-treating her because she is a woman, and called him someone whose disrespect for women is legendary.

However, Pantami, replying via his own Twitter handle denied the accusations, saying, they were far from the truth.

In what seemed a reply to Pantami’s denial, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said in her tweet: “An Islamic scholar should not lie Hon Minister (PhD), you did that to me because I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary.”

The scuffle between the duo started after Abike Dabiri-Erewa, a former parliament member in the House of Reps, released a video via the NIDCOM Twitter page narrating her ordeal and that of the members of staff.

In the video, she accused Pantami of ordering armed men to chase away her workers from their office.

In her narration, she said the office was given to them by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), an agency under the Communications Ministry, claiming that the working tools of the staff were locked up.

She speaks: “In one year, we don’t even have an office. The office we got, given to us by NCC, we were actually driven away by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami.

“Within two days he 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. Do I go on the street and start fighting. No. So, I said I would take the moral higher ground.

“I have complained officially, but we let it be. He wants the place, let him take it. And 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, ” Dabiri-Erewa said.

However, Pantami, replying in a tweet to Dabiri-Erewa’s video, he said she didn’t tell the truth.

His tweet reads in part: “The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms. The minister has never given that directive to any gunman.”

Dabiri-Erewa, responding, quoting Pantami’s tweet, insisted that he chased the workers away because he did not respect women, supporting her claim with a video of the stranded NIDCOM staff who were being addressed to stay calm.

She said: “To refresh you sir, despite your denial; the sec of the commission seeking calm after staff resumed for work and denied access to the 5th floor office of NIDCOM based on your instruction. Turned back by armed men! Haba!!!!”

Thereafter, as the exchange of words continued, Pantami supported his innocence with retweets from his followers who backed his claim, and later shared a statement from the NCC, which pirportedly absolved him of blame in the matter.

The Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Henry Nkemadu, said NIDCOM was not forced out of the complex.

“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 (NIDCOM), 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,” Nkemadu said in the statement said.