Oil and gas watchdog, Coalition of Civil Society Groups for Transparency in Extractive Sector (CCSGTES), has called on President Bola Tinubu to sack and prosecute the chief executive officer of the Nigeria Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Engr. Gbenga Komolafe and his management for alleged corrupt practices in the allocation of marginal oil fields and other sundry issues.
The commission has come under scrutiny after the publication of the 2021 NEITI Oil and Gas Report which shows that the NUPRC awarded marginal fields to some companies prior to payment of signature bonus by the firms, and in the process did not adhere to its own regulations.
The NEITI’s report further states that the commission accepted payment of signature bonus by companies that did not participate in the marginal fields award process, which the watchdog said means the bidding process was short changed for some other reasons other than altruism.
In a statement signed by Nduka Chinwuba and Kareem Isha, National Coordinator and Publicity Secretary, respectively, the civil society accused Engr Komolafe of always being in the news for the wrong reasons, a situation they say does not inspire industry confidence and a conducive atmosphere for investment.
“We are worried by this development and the dire impact on our fragile economy, it is expedient that there is need for the present management to be sacked, probed and prosecuted to allow for deliberate reframing of the commission to address concerns about manifest mismanagement of the commission and poor employees’ welfare through the two years of his stewardship.” The statement said.
According to the duo, the series of protests and agitations in the commission are enough reason to sack Komolafe from his position.
“Let us reiterate what the workers’ said on August 3 when they protested against the management led by Engr Komolafe: 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.”
The group warned that not sacking the present management now could cast a spell on worker’s productivity and the country’s revenue.