•To investigate allegations; shareholders seek transparency
•SEC to continue forensic audit of Oando
By Peter Egwuatu & Levinus Nwabughiogu
THE House of Representatives, yesterday, resolved to probe all allegations of corruption in the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, which led to the suspension of its Director-General, Mounir H. Gwarzo, by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, just as the Commission said it would continue with the forensic exercise on Oando Plc activities.
The legislators also asked the parties in the matter between SEC and the Minister of Finance to maintain status quo, pending the outcome of the investigation.
The resolution was sequel to a motion raised under matters of urgent public importance titled, “Need to intervene on the conflict between Minister of Finance and the suspended Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission”, sponsored by Hon. Diri Douye, representing Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma of Bayelsa State.
Douye, in the motion canvassed that there were allegations of interference by the Ministry of Finance in the discharge of responsibilities by SEC, particularly the Oando forensic audit matter which was speculated to be responsible for Gwarzo’s suspension.
He stated: “The House notes the conflict between Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and the suspended Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Mounir Gwarzo over Oando’s Forensic Audit and corruption allegations.
“The conflict has allegedly lingered for several months between the Ministry of Finance and the Securities and Exchange Commission, but the matter of Oando disagreement brought it into public domain.
“The intervention by the House will put the matter in proper perspective and foster amicable resolution of the conflict in order to protect the image of the Security and Exchange Commission in the interest of both local and foreign investors.”
Contributing to the motion, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (Enugu State) said that the rot in SEC apparently contributed to the collapse of the capital market in Nigeria.
“What is happening in SEC is symptomatic of the collapse of capital market. I wouldn’t know why infractions should be swept under the carpet. The Nigerian people should be told why the infractions of Oando will be swept under the carpet. Nigerians should know why the minister cannot be investigated. Nigerians should know why the D-G was sacked. A total panel of inquiry is needed on SEC”, he said.
Also speaking, Hon. Sanni Kaita (Katsina State) said that the Commission was too sensitive and important to be left unattended.
“SEC is very sensitive and very important to Nigeria and the international community. Should we allow the investigation to go on without knowing what happened?”
Securing the nod of the House when the motion was put to a voice vote, the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, mandated the Committee on Capital Market and Institutions to investigate all the allegations and report to the House within two weeks.
SEC to continue forensic audit on Oando
Meanwhile, the SEC, yesterday, stated that it will go ahead with the conduct of a forensic exercise on Oando Plc despite the suspension of Gwarzo.
The Commission, in a statement, said it has written to Oando Plc yesterday of its commitment to conduct the forensic exercise on the company’s activities.
The statement made available to Vanguard reads in part: “The Commission wishes to assure the general public of its zero tolerance to infractions in the Nigerian Capital Market.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the latest development by SEC to continue with the forensic audit of Oando’s activities, some shareholders of the company expressed total support for the exercise, provided it is transparent.
Alhaji Shehu Mallam Mikail, National President, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, stated: “The immediate action from the newly appointed acting director general of SEC, Dr. Abdul Zubair, to continue with the forensic exercise on Oando Plc is a good one. “We the shareholders of Oando expect the audit to continue as this will address the issues affecting the company. It will also give the Commission the respect it deserves as the headmaster of the market.
“The forensic exercise should be transparent enough to protect the interest of shareholders and the company. The forensic audit will show that there is no hidden agenda or interest from all stakeholders involved in the matter.
“We want transparency and accountability in our market and that is why our shareholders are supporting the exercise.”
Mr. Boniface Okezie, Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, PSAN, said: “SEC is an institution. It is not a one-man entity, so the continuation of the forensic audit on Oando is a welcome development. We shareholders expect the forensic exercise to continue despite the suspension of Gwarzo. “The suspension of Gwarzo is a different thing from Oando’s audit. There were petitions from some stakeholders bothering on transfer of shares and ownership, so if the Commission has resolved to carry out forensic exercise, it will be in the best interest of the company and the entire shareholders to put the matter to rest. We want the exercise to be transparent and not to witch-hunt anybody.”