Govt sus­pends SEC boss, oth­ers over al­leged im­pro­pri­ety

Cap­i­tal mar­ket share­hold­ers dif­fer on move

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE - By He­len Oji

THE Min­istry of Fi­nance yes­ter­day suspended the direc­tor-gen­eral of the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, over al­leged fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety and abuse of of­fice.

The head of me­dia divi­sion, Ab­dul­salam Naif Habu, and the head of le­gal depart­ment, Mrs. Anas­ta­sia Omozele Braimoh, were also suspended on al­le­ga­tion of fi­nan­cial mis­con­duct. Gwarzo was al­leged to have paid him­self a N104m sev­er­ance pack­age. Other al­le­ga­tions were: “He is a direc­tor in Me­dusa In­vest­ment Lim­ited, in vi­o­la­tion of Pub­lic Ser­vices Rules (PRS) 030424. He awarded con­tracts to the same com­pany and other com­pa­nies to which he is re­lated, thus re­sult­ing in a con­flict of in­ter­est.”

The Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, Mrs. Kemi Adeo­sun, said his sus­pen­sion would pave the way for un­hin­dered in­ves­ti­ga­tion and was also in line with PSR 03405 and 03406, adding that a panel to de- ter­mine his cul­pa­bil­ity had been set up.

Gwarzo has been di­rected to im­me­di­ately hand over to the most senior of­fi­cer at the com­mis­sion, pend­ing the con­clu­sion of in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Re­act­ing to the de­vel­op­ment, the pres­i­dent of Con­stance Share­hold­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria, Shehu Mal­lam Mikail, urged gov­ern­ment to in­volve the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC) in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

He said: “If gov­ern­ment wants to fight cor­rup­tion in the cap­i­tal mar­ket, they must in­volve the ser­vices of the EFCC in or­der to as­cer­tain the true state of the

mat­ter. If he is found guilty, he must be brought to book. Many things are ac­tu­ally go­ing on in the com­mis­sion be­cause the ref­er­ence made on the ac­count num­ber and the com­pany is proof that there is more to it.

“This will not af­fect the cap­i­tal mar­ket. In­stead, it will in­still con­fi­dence in the minds of in­vestors that gov­ern­ment is sin­cere and trans­par­ent, and is ready to flush out bad eggs in the mar­ket. It will serve as de­ter­rent to who­ever takes over.”

The pres­i­dent, Stan­dard As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria, God­win Anono, said: “It is an is­sue of com­plete fraud. It is wors­en­ing on daily ba- sis in the cap­i­tal mar­ket. He has been in­dicted and the law should take its course. “When peo­ple that are sup­posed to show good ex­am­ples to oth­ers are tread­ing this di­rec­tion, then there is a prob­lem. See what the reg­u­la­tors are per­pe­trat­ing. In­vestors have lost a lot of money in the mar­ket. And what can we do? That is why no­body wants to go back to the mar­ket. Peo­ple are not buy­ing shares again. It is quite un­for­tu­nate.”

The na­tional co­or­di­na­tor, Pro­gres­sive Share­hold­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, Boni­face Okezie, was how­ever cau­tious. He said: “I do not know why he was suspended over mere al­le­ga­tions. Gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tions are not healthy for the mar­ket. They should have in­ves­ti­gated the mat­ter be­fore mak­ing the pro­nounce­ment.

“I hope there is no po­lit­i­cal un­der­tone in this hasty sus­pen­sion. EFCC is there and other agen­cies of gov­ern­ment are there to take up the mat­ter, in­stead of mak­ing pro­nounce­ment that could trig­ger panic in the mar­ket. Let thor­ough inves- tiga­tions be car­ried out.

And if he is found guilty , gov­ern­ment can then sus­pend and re­tire him.”

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives com­mit­tee on cap­i­tal mar­ket re­cently com­menced de­lib­er­a­tion on in­ves­ti­gat­ing the SEC boss.

The chair­man of the com­mit­tee, Ta­judeen Yusuf, told jour­nal­ists at a press brief­ing that there was need to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions in­clud­ing the award of con­tracts to com­pa­nies owned by his re­la­tions.

Yusuf said that while the com­mit­tee was yet to re­ceive a pe­ti­tion against Gwarzo for pay­ing him­self, it would act based on me­dia re­ports.

“I have not re­ceived the said pe­ti­tion on the mat­ter. But I, like other Nige­ri­ans, have no­ticed that th­ese is­sues have been in the me­dia. As rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple, whose re­spon­si­bil­ity is first and fore­most to en­sure in­vestors’ con­fi­dence and trust in the cap­i­tal mar­ket, of which SEC is the reg­u­la­tor, we will seek to know the fact of the mat­ter,” he said.

On the spe­cific steps the com­mit­tee would take, the law­maker said: “Yes, we can in­vite the direc­tor gen­eral. We can write him to ap­pear be­fore us. But first, I want us to meet as a com­mit­tee.” The me­dia last month had re­ported that Gwarzo al­legedly got a sev­er­ance pack­age of N104 mil­lion, shortly af­ter he was named direc­tor gen­eral.

PHOTO: NAJEEM RAHEEM.

Mem­ber, Ga­maliel and Su­san Onosode Foun­da­tion (GAMSU), Al­fred Okoi­gun (left); Direc­tor, Ad­vance­ment, La­gos Business School (LBS), Olamide Ibitoye; Vice Chan­cel­lor, Pan At­lantic Univer­sity, Prof. Jaun Elegido; Chair­man, GAMSU, Moyo Ajekigbe; former Nige­ria Am­bas­sador to United King­dom, Dr. Christo­pher Ko­lade; mem­ber, GAMSU, Ese Onosode; Dean, La­gos Business School, Dr.

Enase Okonedo; mem­ber, Board of Trustee, GAMSU, Spener Onosode and mem­ber, GAMSU, Toyin Olan­re­waju at the turn­ing of sod, Ga­maliel Onosode Man­age­ment Re­search Cen­tre in La­gos…yes­ter­day.

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