NUPRC Personnel Insist On Firing Gbenga Komolafe Due To Allegations Of Fraud - NAIJARELOADED MEDIA | MOST VISITED WEBSITE

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Aug 4, 2023

NUPRC Personnel Insist On Firing Gbenga Komolafe Due To Allegations Of Fraud


The disgruntled staff of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), formerly the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), picketed and barricaded the Commission on Wednesday after a 24-hour deadline had passed in order to demand the immediate dismissal of the Chief Executive, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, for alleged fraud and abuse of office.

At Jabi, Abuja, off the main road going to Lifecamp/Wuse axis, hundreds of the protesting personnel wearing black and red surrounded the NUPRC facility and put a casket bearing the words "RIP Fraud" at the main door.

Also, they screamed "Komolafe must go" in protest at his claimed deliberate reframing of complaints regarding the commission's blatant incompetence and the poorly managed welfare of its personnel.

Nonetheless, they urged President Bola Tinubu to fire Komolafe or force him to retire so that a forensic audit of all contract negotiations and payments made by the commission while he was in charge could be conducted immediately.

Comrade Owan David, National Treasurer of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), who participated in the protest, reaffirmed that despite efforts to address urgent problems endangering the Commission's and the industry's overall well-being, the Komolafe-led NUPRC had turned a deaf ear to them, leaving the staff union with no choice but to peacefully demonstrate in order to voice their complaints.

He however, warned that if nothing was done to address the situation, workers through the instrumentality of the union will not hesitate to withdraw from their duty posts nationwide and mobilize to join the protest in Abuja, until the authorities take necessary action to save the commission from total collapse.

Earlier, the branch Chairman of the NUPRC workers’ union, Comrade Okechukwu Anya, decried that the embattled management instead of urgently engaging and addressing their grievances, had resulted in intimidating the staff union leaders for speaking up and asking for improved working conditions at the commission.

Anya disclosed that NUPRC under Komolafe, has recorded depths of corruption, staff neglect, sexual harassment, and gross mismanagement of its funds.

He added that appalling neglect of staff welfare is highlighted by the commission’s inability to cover medical services for staff due to heavy unpaid debts, non-payment of statutory group life insurance and pension claims, and chronic underpayment of staff entitlements.

According to him, the NUPRC has been turned into a hotbed of favouritism and patronage, with the recruitment of over 140 individuals, without proper procedures and in violation of the Federal Public Service rules and the Federal Character Commission’s policies on equal opportunities.

In a long outline of the alleged fraudulent activities of the NUPRC boss, the workers’ union states: “Our investigation reveals that Engr. Gbenga has utilized his position to continually exploit the commission’s coffers to satisfy his personal interests.

“His flagrant disregard for the plight of his staff and the well-being of the nation is nothing short of scandalous, deserving of an urgent unrestrained forensic audit of all contract processes and payments.

“Top on the list of his nefarious activities is the shameful non-payment of gratuities to staff who retired in 2022. Despite numerous pleas from these retirees and securing virement of about 10 billion Naira from the National Assembly intended to cover these payments, he instead misappropriated these funds, donating an astonishing 4 billion Naira to political parties in the run-up to elections, in a blatant bid to retain his position and squandering the rest.

“Gbenga and the Commission’s Board Secretary, Mrs Anyanechi Olayemi, are implicated in multiple instances of financial racketeering, using inflated contracts to legal firms to siphon corporate and collective funds from the commission, amounting to over 1 billion Naira in 2023 alone.

“Despite the commission’s technical mandate, Gbenga and his cronies have wasted a staggering 900 million Naira on dubious ‘sensitization workshops’, a further 500 million Naira on office renovations and furniture procurement, and an unconscionable 1.5 billion Naira on luxury transportation including private jet travel and first-class flights, in violation of presidential directives.

“In addition to these issues, the NUPRC under Gbenga is mired in infrastructural deficiencies and a decline in crude oil production, plunging from daily production of 1.672M bopd in 2021 to a worrying average of 1.452M bopd. This decline speaks volumes about the mismanagement and incompetence of the NUPRC under Gbenga’s leadership.

“This report represents the latest in a long line of scandals tied to the leadership of Engr. Komolafe Gbenga. It is high time for thorough scrutiny, forensic audit of the Commission and decisive action to end these outrageous abuses of power. The employees of the NUPRC and the people of Nigeria deserve better. The question that remains: will the authorities take action?”.

Meanwhile, when contacted for reaction, Head, Public Affairs Unit (PAU), of the commission, Adamu Garba, who declined to comment on the matter, as he was on leave.

Garba, when pressed on to comment, insisted that he was not in the know of the development, stressing that he had embarked on the leave for about a month, however, offered to provide the contact of his deputy, Carol Chika, who should be in a better position to react to such request, aimed at balancing this report.

But, NUPRC’s head of PAU, as of the time of filling this report, failed to provide his deputy’s contact.

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