SHAREHOLDERS of publicly quoted companies in Nigeria have commended the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over its various initiatives in protecting shareholdersâ€™ interest in public companies even as the commission enlightens them on their rights and responsibilities.
Speaking over the weekend at a stakeholdersâ€™ enlightenment workshop in Benin City, the Chairman of the Onitsha Zone Shareholdersâ€™ Association, Bishop Goodluck Akpore said the Commission is leading other regulatory agencies in the financial sector in protecting shareholders in Nigeria.
Specifically, Bishop Akpore said the commission has been very supportive to shareholders in Nigeria while its public enlightenment workshops are very educative to shareholders. He therefore called on other regulatory bodies in the financial sector to emulate the Commission by taking actions that would not undermine shareholdersâ€™ interest.
Bishop Akpore at the workshop on recent developments in the capital market organized by SEC in Benin City in collaboration with the Onitsha Zone Shareholdersâ€™ Association disclosed that shareholders were happy with the Commission.
In his words, â€œAs the apex regulatory body in the country, we believe a lot in SEC because they do what is right. The Commission is peaceful, peace lover and very mature in addressing issues in the marketâ€
He therefore called on shareholders to support the Commission. According to him, â€œSEC has been very supportive to our course, so let us also support SEC as well, especially anytime it needs our supportâ€
He went on to say that the Commission has been championing investorsâ€™ protection initiatives. â€œThis is one of the reasons why I served in the Committee on Code of Corporate Governance when it was set up by the Commission. I am also very sure that this occasion (referring the workshop) would be educative to shareholders and further reveal more shareholdersâ€™ rights. Let us listen to themâ€
In his paper, rights and responsibilities of shareholders in a company, Mr. Eric O. M Elujekor, Zonal Head, Onitsha Zonal Office of the Commission highlighted several rights and responsibilities of shareholders in a company.
He explained that the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) has provided a lot of protection for the shareholders in the administration and management of a company, but immediately added that â€œwhat is needed is the awareness and active participation to invoke the provisions of the law to protect their interest and remedy any wrong in the affairs of the companyâ€
He emphasized that the rights conferred upon shareholders in the CAMA are not self executory, as shareholders need to take concrete steps to exercise the rights. Some of these rights, according to Elujekor include right to a copy of the memorandum and article of association and copy of any amendment in them, right to attend any general meeting of the company, right to speak and vote on any resolution proposed at any of the meetings, right to vote in person or by proxy, right to inspect register of members and right to share certificate.
Other rights the CAMA confers on a shareholder include right to transfer shares, right to requisition extra-ordinary general meeting, right to receive notice of general meetings, right to demand a poll at meetings, right to appoint proxy, right to inspect minutes book, right to propose a person for election to the office of a director, right to stop company from acting illegally or ultra vires and right to bring action on behalf of the company.
Elujekor also stated that shareholders also have the right to apply to the corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to appoint inspectors to investigate the affairs of a company, right to obtain copies of financial statement on demand, right to be elected a member of Audit Committee and right to sue for dividend declared put not paid.
On responsibilities of shareholders of a company, Elujekor said they include attendance of general meetings, voting at such meeting and proxy solicitation, in case a member could not attend a meeting personally.
In another paper presented at the workshop, Mr. Andrew Tenmang, an Assistant Director with the Commission declared that the role the shareholders Associations is crucial, necessary, desirable and indispensable in the promotion and enforcement of good corporate governance.
Also speaking at the workshop, Mr. Sylvester O. Akele, Director, Special Duties at the Commission said the regulatory authorities, especially SEC have taken a number of measures to restore confidence to the capital.
These measures and the market correction that has been taking place, according to Akele will obviously put the market on path of sustained growth and development, adding that â€œinvestors and participant must understand that the market goes through a circleâ€