…Lament N779bn debt
Uche Usim, Abuja
Shareholders of Oando Plc have called for the suspension of its top management and board to make room for a thorough and hitch-free forensic audit to ascertain the rot in the business.
The angry shareholders have also called on the National Assembly to mandate both the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Acting Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Abdul Zubair, to desist from interfering in the planned forensic audit in the interest of the capital market and its shareholders.
Speaking at a protest in Abuja yesterday, the Chairman, Trusted Shareholders Association of Nigeria (TSAN), Alhaji Mukhtar Mukhtar, wondered why the government would leave the management of a company under investigation to remain in office during a forensic audit.
He alleged that the decision of the regulatory authorities to leave Oando’s Managing Director, Wale Tinubu, and other top management officials during an audit was capable of eroding investors’ confidence.
“How can you leave a management you investigated and found to have issues to clear on the saddle during a forensic audit. It’s never done anywhere. They are to be suspended pending the duration of the audit and if they are without blemish, they return but if guilty, let the law take its course.
“We all remember the former SEC DG who insisted on this forensic audit; they leveled some allegations against him and he was suspended pending the outcome of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry. Why can’t the Oando management be suspended? This smells of bias and we worried about it.
“Now, an acting SEC DG has been appointed but he seems scared to insist that the management be suspended pending the audit’s outcome. They said the audit is continuing but nothing is happening and we are here to put pressure on regulatory authorities to do the needful.
“Shareholders are dying one after the other. Shares we bought at N98/share has depreciated to N4.50k/share. Yet those responsible are living luxurious lives and flying in the best of private jets.
“This is unfair. They have sold the revenue-yielding arms of Oando like the downstream businesses to themselves or their cronies, leaving the liabilities to us. And yet they can’t be suspended for a full unhindered audit. This is unacceptable,” Mukhtar fumed. He also expressed worry over huge debt of N779 billion, which gulps N26 billion interest annually.
Also speaking at the protest, Taiwo Oderinde, the National Coordinator of Proactive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said the intervention of the National Assembly was being sought due to the shabby way the regulatory authorities have handled the matter thus far.
He said the shares of Oando hitherto quoted in Toronto Stock Exchange and South Africa have been delisted when they discovered their opaque dealings and crippling debt.
“We’re calling on the National Assembly to intervene because we have lost confidence in SEC because it is highly compromised. The Acting Director General is not forthcoming perhaps for fear of what happened to his predecessor. Enough is enough. Justice must be done.”