By PETER EGWUATU & MICHAEL EBOH
LAGOS — Acting Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Daisy Ekineh, two other Executive Commissioners of the commission and the entire SEC Board were, Thursday, relieved of their duty by the Federal Government, as their tenure expires June 15, 2012.
Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has ruled out any tenure elongation for the Acting Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Ms. Daisy Ekineh, stressing that SEC’s Director of Finance and Administration, Mr. Bolaji Ibrahim Bello, would assume office on Monday, June 18, 2012 as the Acting Director General.
Meanwhile, Vanguard, gathered that staff attached to the office of the suspended Director-General, Ms Arunma Oteh have been redeployed.
This is even as Ekineh is due to retire as Acting Director General, Friday, with other Executive Commissioners on the Board.
The newly appointed Acting Director General of SEC, Bello, has been the Head of SEC’s office Lagos. He was a stock broker before joining the commission.
Why only Oteh was suspended
Also, the Board of SEC has revealed why other staff involved in ‘Project 50’ were not suspended alongside Oteh.
The Board disclosed that its director general took responsibility for the financial issues and questions arising from Project 50 and refused to make formal report to the Audit and Finance Committee of the Board on the project.
A source close to the Board confided in Vanguard that Oteh’s suspension was linked to her inability to present formal report to the Audit and Finance Committee after the Board mandated her to do so.
The source further stated that the Board had mandated Price Water House Coopers, PWC, to conduct an investigation into the allegations against Oteh and submit their report.
The source disclosed that PWC was given a minimum of four weeks to conclude their investigation and to submit their report.
Redeployment vindictive —Affected staff
On the issue of staff redeployment, a source in SEC, who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said the letter signed by the Head of Human Resources, SEC, Hussaini Dauda, redeployed the staff to areas outside their competencies.
“It is sad that this action can constitute the priority of the current leadership of the SEC at this time, when there is an urgent need to take actions to rebuild and sustain the transformation agenda of Oteh, and make the place more service-oriented and more committed to capital market governance at the commission, rather than those urgent concerns, acts of administrative vindictiveness, victimisation, which eventually contains a witch hunt against the person of Oteh.
In a text message to Vanguard, another staff of the commission who chose not to be named, said: “The action furthers the witch hunt against the DG by the anti reform old guard who have neither the vision nor the capacity to raise SEC to the status of an efficient regulator that can oversight a credible and transparent market characterised by a high level of investor confidence.
How Oteh erred
On why Oteh was asked to step down, the source in the Board of SEC said: “The rules and regulation of SEC states that all money collected or expenses made by the commission should be disclosed to enable the commission render appropriate accounts when preparing its financial year end report that would eventually be presented to the Ministry of Finance for endorsement.
“But the suspended Director General refused to submit a formal report and this led to her suspension to enable Audit and Finance Committee and PriceWaterHouse (PWC) to investigate the project 50 programme.”
Specifically, he continued, “The Board had directed the Audit and Finance Committee to investigate Project 50 at its meeting held on February 29, 2012 and to present a report to the Board within four weeks. The Committee invited the Director-General to forward her report on Project 50 and appear before it at its meeting held on March 9, 2012. The Director-General failed to appear and did not forward any written report. The Director-General informed the Committee that she will rather present her report to the full Board.
“The Committee however reminded her that the Board had directed it to investigate the Project 50 and that it will be appropriate for her to present her report to the Committee.
The Director-General made oral presentation to the Committee on March 23, 2012. She was again reminded to forward her written report to the Committee. She promised to do so but did not forward any written report.
“The Committee met again on May 3 and 4, 2012. Again the Director-General did not forward any written report but she sent an email to members of the Committee that she would not be available for a meeting with the Committee on 4th May, 2012 and that as soon as possible, she would forward her written report on Project 50 as a follow up to her oral presentation on March 23, 2012.”
Continuing, he said, “The Director-General finally forwarded a written report to the committee on 22nd May, 2012. After considering the report, the Committee requested for more information which the Director-General supplied on 24th May, 2012. The Director-General did not fully cooperate with the Audit and Finance Committee in its investigation which was directed by the Board to be concluded within four (4) weeks.
In the course of the investigation and preparation of its report, the Committee excluded the Executive Commissioner (Finance & Administration) who is a member of the Committee from some of its meetings in order to avoid potential conflict of interest.
The Executive Commissioner (F&A) was also excluded from the meetings where the report and recommendations of the Committee were considered.”
“The Board did not accept all the recommendations of the Committee. For example, it did not accept the recommendation for key actors in the Project 50 to be suspended.
“The Board rather directed the Director-General to proceed on compulsory leave in order to conduct an independent investigation, as recommended by the Committee.
“The Director-General was asked to proceed on compulsory leave because she admitted that she was the Chairman of Project 50 Committee and that she was the key person in the management of the sources and uses of funds for the Project 50.