I Was Suspended Because I Did Not Stop Probe of Oando, Suspended DG Gwarzo Tells Committee

Mounir Gwarzo, Suspended DG of Nigeria’s SEC

January 30, 2018/Sahara Reporters

The suspended Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC ), Munir Gwarzo has said that the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun called him to her office and told him to stop the forensic investigation and the suspension placed on Oando Plc asking him to resign or risk being suspended.

He made this revelation on Tuesday in Abuja at the public hearing on the need to intervene in the conflict involving him and the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun by the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Institutions. He stated that the minister threatened him either to resign or risk being suspended.  

“On the 18th October, we directed that the shares of Oando should be put on technical suspension and we also informed the public that a forensic audit will be undertaken on Oando.  The following day 19th October, the honorable Minister of Finance invited me to her office and queried the power that I had to carry out the investigation and I explained to her that the law has given the power to do the investigation. She told me to lift the technical suspension placed on Oando, the permanent secretary was also in attendance and it was on Friday. I tried to reason with her why it was not necessary to lift the suspension but she told me that it was important to do that.”

“So we went for prayer and we came back at 4:00 pm another meeting was convened.”

On the N104.8 million as severance, Gwazo stated that he is entitled to it adding that that same board that approved his predecessor, Aruma Oteh, gave the approval. He denied any wrong doing in his action.

In her own submission to the committee, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun explained that decision to suspend him was necessary with the view to instilling confidence in the capital market. The minister noted that the action was to preempt other action that may paint the capital market in a bad light. 

She justified the action taken as chairman of the board of SEC adding that the director general violated the civil service rules. She denied the allegation of interference with the operations of the commission noting that she only give policy directive. 

On the allegation leveled against the minister that some of her family members have shares in Oando, the minister denied the claim saying that it was not true. Adeosun also debunked the insinuation that she told Gwarzo to stop the forensic investigation and lift the suspension on Oando. 

She pointed that contrary to the claim of Gwarzo that he has resigned from the company he brought since 2012 that evidence from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) shown that he was still a shareholder, director, and signatory to the account of the company .

“We have bank transaction evidence. At the same time we received information that staff of SEC that documents are being removed and we knew that we need to do further investigation and we still have him as at the helms of affair of SEC and that was when we took a decision to suspend him,” Adesoun stated.

Also speaking at the hearing the Director Legal Ministry of Finance, Christopher Gabriel explained that the minister exercise the power and function of the board of SEC . 

According to him, “When this issue came, she had the power and responsibility to react in public interest. She has the duty and responsibility in accordance with the policies of that whistleblower document to react by taking the necessary step. There is no contravention to any existing statute or rules in the procedure taken by the minister in disciplining the suspended director general.“

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