As corrupt practices march on undeterred in Delta State, especially in the government of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, another monumental fraud of about N25billion has been discovered in the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
The startling revelation came during the last monthly Delta State Economic Dash Board held last week in Government House, Asaba, through state consultant ROLLANDE BERGERS and Co, which has been probing the books of Ministries in the last four years.
And only a few days after the ground-shaking revelation was made, yet another fraud allegation emerged, as physically challenged persons accused some officials of the DESOPADEC of embezzling a whopping sum of N40million from their empowerment fund.
On January 30, over 200 physically challenged persons stormed the commission’s headquarters in Warri to protest the stage a protest, during which they made they made the allegation.
Besieging the gates of the commission early in the morning, officials said they hurled stones into the premises, particularly the Administration and Finance Department.
The visibly angry protesters stated that the officials only released N5million to them in December 2012 after obtaining approval for N40million which they purportedly cashed but have refused to release.
They accused Mr. Oritsua Kpogho and Mr. A. E. Oghoro, the chairman and secretary of the commission of being behind the “rip-off,” in connivance with some officials of the Finance Department. They state that the funds have been an annual budgetary allocation for the welfare of disabled persons from the days of Chief Wellington Okrika as chairman.
The protesters, who came from the 25 local government areas of the state, barricaded the main gate of the commission and restrained movement in the offices. Workers of the commission were caged for hours in the premises before they were rescued by soldiers drafted to the place.
The scene became chaotic as the soldiers used tear-gas on the physically challenged protesters in a bid to disperse them but in desperation they grabbed the soldiers and clung to their legs, making it difficult for the soldiers to brutalize them further.
The protest, which lasted over three hours, also crippled official and economic activity along the Warri/Sapele road office of the commission near the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS), Delta Base.
It would be recalled that contractors have also recently accused officials of the Commission of alleged contract scams running into millions of Naira.
Contacted over the issue, the Senior Press Officer to the commission, Comrade Vincent Oyibode, described as unruly, barbaric and uncalled for, the protest by the disabled persons, adding that they were being ungrateful after all that has been done for them in terms of welfare and training.
Oyibode said that in 2009 when the leadership of the disabled persons was given money for vocational training, they spent the funds on frivolities instead of channeling it into the purpose for which it was provided.
He said that in order to avoid recurrence, which had been loudly protested by those of the disabled who were schemed out by their leadership, the board decided to organize the vocational training itself so that the beneficiaries could be self-sufficient in life.
"This current board doesn’t want to make the same mistake so the plan is to ensure that they are sent for the training so that they can be empowered to be self-sustainable in life instead of begging on the streets,” he said.
He stated that the commission has been fair to the disabled. “Just last year December 23rd, they were given N5 million as exam good will with the promise the training programme would commence. The board was just inaugurated on the 26th November 2012 and they are presently busy on how projects can be awarded to ensure full implementation of the 2012 budget."