By MICHAEL EBOH
The Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, has directed the Director-General of the Commission, Ms Arunma Oteh to proceed on compulsory leave, to enable them probe allegations of financial misappropriation and disharmony in the apex capital market regulator.
The Board has also named Ms Daisy Ekineh, an Executive Commissioner of SEC, to act as Director-General.
SEC, Tuesday morning, confirmed the removal of Oteh, but its spokespersons refused to give further comment, promising to comment extensively on the matter later in the day.
However, a source very close to Oteh, who is also one of her assistants, confirmed to Vanguard that Oteh’s removal was politically motivated and did not follow due process.
The source said the action of the Board is part of a ploy to ridicule Oteh, install Ekineh as DG and illegally extend Ekineh’s tenure, along with the tenure of other Commissioners, through the back door.
He stated that the removal has nothing to do with disharmony in SEC or misappropriation of funds for project 50, but was a plan by certain members of the Board to pursue their sinister objectives.
He said, “There have been some wild allegations against Oteh in recent times, starting from the public hearing conducted by the House of Representatives Adhoc committee probing the near collapse of the Nigerian capital market. To the effect that they said that SEC’s Project 50 cost between N2 billion to N3 billion.
“You are also aware that some of the people on the Board of SEC were sponsors of some of those misinformation and falsehood.
“The audit and finance committee of the Board actually conducted investigation and asked questions around project 50, and they were given all the responses, including the precise cost of Project 50, which was no more than N155 million. This is less than 10 per cent of N2 billion.
“But they have their own agenda which they want to pursue and uphold. They are now talking about bringing in external auditors to investigate project 50, which Arunma Oteh, fully welcomes.
“The only thing about all these is that it is lacking in due process and I will tell you why. You are aware that Ekineh is the acting DG, that is the same Ekineh, who along with other Executive commissioners whose tenures are due to expire this June 15, just a couple of days aways.
What they are now doing is to get tenure extension through the back door.
“From this, their is a clear case of conflict of interest. There is nothing they want to investigate in project 50 that would warrant this action. They have the list of donors and their phone numbers. We have given all available materials. There is nothing they would want to do on project 50 that would warrant their extending their tenures through the back door.
On whether if Oteh would want to return to SEC after the conclusion of the investigation, the source said, “Oteh has all the options open to her. And she has the courtesy to allow people that appointed her carry out the authority associated with the position they occupy, especially as it relates to her.
“Oteh is not in need of a job, going by her credentials, only that Nigeria is a very interesting place.”