By Michael Eboh
The Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, yesterday, said it has phased out unclaimed dividends in the Nigerian capital market, stating that henceforth, there would be no future unclaimed dividends on those currently being declared by companies.
In a statement in Abuja, Acting Director General of SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, stated that the commission had gone very far in addressing the unclaimed dividends problem, stating that the decision to eliminate it completely, going forward, was a major milestone.
Uduk who was represented in a television interview by the Head, Office of the Chief Economist of SEC, Mr. Okey Umeano, said the Commission had engaged Nigeria Interbank Settlement System to make use of the Bank Verification Number, and had gotten the Central Securitas Clearing System, CSCS, and the registrars working towards ensuring a significant reduction.
She said, “More importantly, we know that there would be no future unclaimed dividends, there would be no addition to the unclaimed dividends profile and we count that as a success.
“We believe that once we solve the identity issues that we have presently, the problem of unclaimed dividends will be a thing of the past. Also we have continued with our education of the market, we are making more efforts towards awareness on what stakeholders need to know to make the market more attractive, make it better and protect the investors more.”
Uduk stated that the Commission is continuing the implementation of the 10-year capital market master plan to make the market more attractive to investors.
She said “This year, one of the things we decided to resolve was resolving the unclaimed dividend problems as well as regularisation of multiple accounts. On all counts we have made a lot of strides. Next year we are picking a few other things like derivatives trading, commodities trading ecosystem and strengthening the CIS segment of the market.
The Acting SEC boss stated that the issues around multiple subscription was still on, and urged affected investors to regularise their accounts so that their shares can become active and the investors can also get the benefits of investing in the market.
“We have given some time for those affected to regularise their accounts. The stockbrokers and registrars are working on that and we believe that in no time we will identify the owners of those accounts and put them together so that those shares will become tradable again,” she explained.
Uduk stated that the elimination of dividend warrants in the market has been a major game changer and therefore urged investors to register for e-dividend to access the benefits.
She said, “What that means is that when dividends are paid, investors no longer have to wait for warrants by post as these dividends are paid directly into their accounts. That is why we are saying that going forward, accounts without full details, that have not been updated will no longer be allowed to trade.
“This is because we do not want the legacy issues to continue, we don’t want unclaimed dividends to keep growing, we want it to be such that when dividends are paid investors get it directly to their bank accounts. This will also help in making the market more liquid.”