Following the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court ruling to discharge the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, of the charge of fraud filed against him, different views have continued to trail the development as market stakeholders have described the situation as an issue of “mafiarism” which could derail the growth of the capital market.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had arraigned Gwarzo and Zakwanu Garba before Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf on a five-count charge bordering on fraud after the former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, suspended Messrs Gwarzo and Garba from their positions in November 2017 over allegations of corruption.
However, Baba-Yusuf, held that the prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused persons committed the offence for which they were charged.
The judge said by its own admission, the prosecution through its witnesses and evidence confirmed that the action of the defendant was by a decision of the governing board of SEC, which is the highest decision-making body of the commission.
Ruling on the first count of a 5 count charge of use of office for personal enrichment against Mr Gwarzo, the judge said the ICPC did not prove its allegation.
He held that while the first prosecution did not implicate the first defendant in her testimony, the remaining witnesses who are operatives of the ICPC contradicted themselves, therefore, discharging and acquitting the duo.
However the ICPC roared back, irecently indicating its intentions to appeal a judgment which cleared Gwarzo and Zakawanu Garba of all charges.
In a statement posted on its website, the Commission said it was dissatisfied with the judgment on the grounds that the board resolution the Trial Judge relied on did not decide the severance benefit but on the retirement and resignation benefit, adding that the notice of appeal will be filed soon.
But the report of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry into allegations of violations of public service Rules, Financial Regulations and other Extant Rules and Regulations set up by the Minster of Finance, showed that documents obtained by the panel at the Corporate Affairs Commission revealed that Gwarzo was still a director of the company as well as a major shareholder with a shareholding of N1.2 million as at the time of the search.
“His purported letter of resignation dates December 19, 2012 was not part of CAC’s records as at the date of the inquiry l. It was equally discovered from the account opening mandate obtained from GTBank that Gwarzo was at the date of the inquiry signatory to account No 322324264/1/110 maintained by the company with the bank
The panel was also furnished with a letter dated July 24, 2015, addressed to the bank signed by Gwarzo as director of the company requesting for a change of account Officer on the basis of a resolution passed and signed by the directors of the company to that effect.
The report indicated that also discovered was a letter dated August 16, 2016 signed by Gwarzo as a director of the company requesting for the issuance of a credit card in relation to the said account.
“When Gwarzo was confronted with the above letters, he admitted to have authored and signed them, but claimed that it was a regrettable action” the report stated.
Based on the gravity of the findings by the Panel, it was recommended that Gwarzo be dismissed from the Public Service of the Federal Government for holding the position of a Director in private companies while in service as the DG of SEC in breach of PSR 030424 and Section 6 of the Investment and Securities Act 2007.
The panel also recommended that Gwarzo be referred to the ICPC for further investigation of the allegation of using his position as DG to influence the award of contracts to Outbound Investment Limited in view of the Provisions of Sections 58 (12) (b) and 58 (5) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
Speaking in separate telephone interviews, stakeholders of the view that Nigeria still suffers from the issue of having transparency and accountability of any individual assigned to any level of governance.
They blamed the government for not setting up a board in which the apex regulator has been running its affairs for four years, adding that with the situation in the capital market, investors might avoid the market.
National President, Constance Shareholders’ Association of Nigeria, Mallam Shehu Mikail, noted that the situation hanging round Gwarzo is a game of mafiarism and urge the government and to revisit the case.
“Until we are open to the issue of transparency and accountability, that is when the country will be solid. As far as I am concerned, the situation around Gwarzo is a game of mafiarism. I believe in due process in all aspects as the case needs to be revisited to bring out the actual truth.
According to him, the issue of documentation which has been the problem of companies and also the absence of a board at the commission for the past four years has been a problem. “If ICPC wants to prove that the judgment is wrong, then, let them go out to do so. The market does not need investors moving away from it especially at this time”, he noted.
For his part, National Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), Boniface Okezie, suggested that Gwarzo should be recalled and then retired.