• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Again, Reps summon SEC over N104.85m severance package scam

Tajudeen Yusuf, chairman, House Committee on Capital Market and other Institutions has constituted sub-committee that will probe N104,851,154.94 severance package alleged paid to Mounir Gwarzo, the incumbent Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The payment, according to the petition submitted to the House of Representatives was in breach of civil service rules and regulations.

In addition, the petitioner alleged that Gwarzo awarded sole distributorship of diesel and cleaning service contracts to his families since he assumed the office as SEC Director General.

The sub-committee chaired by Tony Nwolu, was mandated to probe allegations bothering on sharp and unwholesome practice leveled against Gwarzo, on assumption of office in 2015.

Some of the lawmakers who spoke on the terms of reference of the Nwolu’s sub-committee, expressed disgust at the spate of allegations rocking the Commission in recent times.

“We read with displeasure the supposed response of the Commission’s spokesman that the frivolous payment follows laid down rules and regulations.

“Honestly, this is absurd. Of course that further gave our committee a leeway to the rot in the commission, and public service in general.

“For us as a committee, we will stop at nothing to get to the root of the level of corruption being perpetuated in various institutions of government especially at the federal level,” he said.

Another South-West lawmaker who frowned at the level of the allegation, argued that the statement credited to SEC spokesman in a media report presupposes that the infraction has been the tradition within the commission.

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He recalled that a former Executive Chairman of one of the commissions during the sixth Assembly, who was a political appointee, allegedly enlisted on the workers roll call with the intent of benefitting from pension benefits.

“These are some of the leakages and atrocities that require stiff penalties by the Parliament. But we can assure you that the committee will leave no stone unturned to rid out the rot in the system and bring whosoever found culpable to face the wrath of the law no matter how highly placed he or she is,” one of the lawmakers told Legislative Correspondents at the weekend.

Recall that the a Sub-Committee set up to probe the crisis on Oando ownership involving SEC management, Concerned Shareholders of Oando Plc, Nigeria and Proactive Shareholders Association, among others, is yet to conclude its assignment.

According to the petitions made available to Legislative Correspondents, the petitioners who accused the Commission of complacency, decried the level of impunity in the discharge of its oversight functions on the players in the market.

They alleged that the lackadaisical attitude of the regulatory agencies which contributed to the imminent crash in the stock market few years ago, eroded investors confidence.

According to the six page petition, the shareholders expressed displeasure over flagrant disregard for corporate governance and insider abuse.

Olufemi Timothy, President, Rennaisance Stakeholders Association of Nigeria Incorporated, who accused the regulators including SEC and Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) of being complacent in the discharge of their constitutional mandates, called for independent probe of the accounts of the company.

He alleged that the company has not been paying dividends to the shareholders since 2013 financial year, adding that the “external auditor’s report reported strong doubtful going concern of the Group page annual financial statement.

“The Group has negative working capital of over N263 billion consequence of current liabilities above, lighter than current assets, meaning that the management was unable to service its obligations financially.

“Claim of creditors is higher than the owners, shareholders equity, meaning that the  group could be liquidated by the creditors anytime if urgent action is not taken.

“With accumulated losses of over N159 billion, shareholders could not get a dime as cash dividend. No hope of redeeming these reserved losses.

“Court cases as projected by the management may take claims of over N608 billion which is for greater the assets of the entire group, meaning that the group is at a very high risk of liquidation if the court cases against the company succeeds.

“Cost of litigations is very high. Litigation has damaging consequence on our company’s reputational risk under the current management. Management was increasing entitlements, remunerations despite lack of working capital.

“Both current liabilities and long term liabilities stood at over N799 billion. Management was selling  assets of the company, especially money-spinning assets such as downstream (Marketing) business without meaningful improvement in debts situation. It was planning to sell its share in OER which unfortunately is the last asset belonging to the company,” the petition read in part.

They also urged the leadership of the House to “as a matter of urgency save our investment in Oando Plc, look into these matters, cause an action to intervene in Oando plc by ordering/remove the present management, to vacate office, allowing for proper investigation of the corporate governance abuses, financial mismanagement as noticed in the published full year audited financially statement.”

KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja