By Chinenye Anuforo
To uphold the integrity of the Nigerian capital market, stakeholders yesterday called for a thorough investigation into the raging financial allegations against the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Mounir Gwarzo.
Those who spoke to Daily Sun on the likely impact of the allegation on the business community, urged the Federal Government to hire independent investigators to unravel the veracity of the matter to protect the market.
Specifically, Mr. Eric Akinduro, Chairman, Ibadan Zone Shareholders’ Association, called for independent investigation to ascertain whether the allegations are true or not.
He said, “Well since they are allegations, I believe there should be proper investigation to know whether they are true or not. I wish to say there should be an independent investigation to know if an apex regulator is involved in such mess. After the investigation, if the allegation is true, then the law should take its course. This is not the first time we have issues like that, so let them investigate and if he is found guilty, he should be brought to book.”
Also commenting on the matter, another shareholder activist, Mr. Moses Igbrude, called for transparency in handling the issue, adding that a thorough investigation should be conducted to verify the authenticity of the allegations. “First of all, someone has to come out clean if it is true. A thorough investigation has to be done because many people are out there to run someone down. I would also say that let things be done transparently because they are the regulators and we are looking up to them. And if after investigation, the allegation are true, then law should take its place.”
For his part, Mr. Boniface Okezie, National Coordinator of Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), also wants the allegations investigated to know if they are true or not. He said the Gwarzo is the apex regulator’s head and such allegations against him should not be left hanging in order to protect the integrity of the market.
For Mr. Timothy Adesiyan, leader of the Nigerian Shareholder Solidarity Association (NSSA). “We can never leave such matter like that because he is always the senior prefect leading others to investigate such things in other areas and even organisations that have not committed anything even up to 10 per cent of what is being alleged against him, they should probe and investigate it. We as shareholders will be interested to see that investigation has been done. Whosoever wants to investigate must himself have clean hands and SEC has to clear itself. Right now they are investigating Oando and if they are investigating Oando for something that cannot be substantiated, why is SEC not being investigated? Everything must be done to investigate this matter thoroughly. It must not be by SEC but other superior authority has to investigate this matter”.
However, another stakeholder who spoke to Daily Sun on the condition of anonymity said the SEC boss should be investigated because, if the allegations were the other way round, the SEC would have swung into action immediately.
“I think he should be investigated because this is related to the capital market and transparency is supposed to be our watchword and as this concerns the apex regulator. It is the case of the hunter being hunted…”
There has to be thorough investigation so that we can get to the root of the matter. I thought severance package is paid to people that have retired? Why will he do that as the head of an apex regulator? He doesn’t just need to be investigated, he needs to be investigated thoroughly for the sake of the market integrity and then if it turns out to be false, then he would have cleared his name,” he said.
Recall that, that Gwarzo was alleged to have received a severance package of N104 million from the Commission shortly after he assumed office in 2015.
But, the spokesman of the Commission, Naif Habu Abdulssalam, said ‘the Commission follows laid down rules and regulations in all its activities’.
Gwarzo was SEC Executive Commissioner when former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him to lead the Commission on May 22, 2015.
On assuming office as DG, he allegedly paid himself the hefty package as entitlement for being an Executive Commissioner for two and a half years.
However, in a petition to the House of Representatives seen by an online media, Gwarzo was said to have demanded a severance package entitled to a commissioner immediately he assumed office.
Despite opposition mounted by the acting head of SEC’s Legal Department, Frana Chuwuogo, the SEC boss allegedly received over N104 million as benefits for his former position.
Beside the above hefty allegation, the petition said the SEC DG had been awarding contracts to his family members and friends, in violation of the rules guiding the Commission.