From Uche Usim, Abuja
As the suspension of the former Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, continues to raise dusts in various quarters, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has said that all the allegations of high-handedness leveled against her by the embattled ex-SEC boss were untrue and that she would not succumb to his cheap blackmail.
Gwarzo had in several memos leaked to the media claimed that his suspension sprang from his blatant refusal to suspend the planned forensic audit of Oando Plc, which was not in consonance with Adeosun’s desires.
In one of the leaked memos dated November 28, Gwarzo claimed Adeosun verbally directed him to discontinue the audit during a meeting he held with the Minister the previous day, which he objected to, before he was finally suspended on November 29.
However, in a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, Adeosun described all the circulating memos as a cocktail of lies concocted to conceal the real reasons Gwarzo was suspended and perhaps blackmail her into reinstating a man she knows has a date with the law; as evidence of impunity gathered against him are overwhelming.
She said: “For the avoidance of doubt, there was no directive whatsoever to discontinue investigation into Oando and this was reiterated to the current SEC leadership at the formal handover meeting. The fact that the investigation has continued further corroborates that this is the Minister’s position.
“It should be noted that Gwarzo was queried by the Ministry on 3rd November and he responded on 7th November, 2017. His response to the query was deemed unsatisfactory and further investigation was ordered. Based on the evidence from that further work and creditable reports that documents were being unlawfully removed from SEC, as well as consultations with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the decision was taken to suspend Mr. Gwarzo”, Adeosun explained.
Though the Minister agreed that there was indeed a meeting on Monday, November 27, she said it was for him (Gwarzo) to clarify some of his responses to the query issued, which were not consistent with documentary evidence.
On the timing of Gwarzo’s suspension (coming two days after he claimed he refused suspending the forensic audit), Adeosun said nothing more to it other than the fact that the Ministry had raked in sufficient evidence and complied with the Public Service Rules (PSRs) to suspend him.
Meanwhile, capital market experts and economic analysts have blamed the absence of Boards in some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the fraud perpetuated by their heads.
Since President Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the Boards of parastals shortly after he assumed office in 2015, many of them have remained without Boards.
The development has made the affected agencies vulnerable to abuse by their heads, aside slowing down their operations, since some actions are meant to be taken at Board level.
…Shareholders demand Finance Minister’s resignation
From Samuel Bello, Abuja
A civil society group, Trusted shareholders’ association in partnership with Oando Nigeria Plc, has called on the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun to resign her position within seven days.
Chairman of the group, Mukbtar Mukbtar, who said this at Oando Plc shareholders press briefing in Abuja yesterday, said if she fails to do so, the association would call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack her.
According to Mukbtar, “the undue interference of Mrs Kemi Adeosun in the operations of the capital market is ill-motivated and detrimental to its stability and growth. The Minister should be more concerned about restoring investors’ confidence as a way to attract more investments towards growing the economy instead of becoming a tool in the hands of money bags.
“It is utterly shameful that this is happening under a government that has constantly proclaimed its disdain for corruption. Based on these palpable allegations of complicity, Kemi Adeosun has obviously lost the moral ground to head the very strategic ministry of finance. She has lost the confidence and trust of the Nigerian public, and can no longer protect the interest of the Nigerian people.
He added: “Gwarzo should not be suspended because of his refusal to discontinue investigation into a dying company Oando Nigeria Plc, whose management is making frantic efforts to prevent a comprehensive audit of its account. We fear that Gwarzo’s suspension is another step, after the Oando, to frustrate the forensic audit and provide a soft landing for the organization.
“It is important for President Muhammadu Buhari to be aware of the attention the issues at stake have generated. The world is waiting to see how the investigation will evolve. This is also an opportunity for observers to ascertain the commitment of regulators to protecting shareholders and the investing public without unwarranted interference.
“Shareholders of Oando are currently suffering because of mismanagement of their investments by the company whose current and long term liabilities stood at over N799billion as confirmed by its external auditors. If things are left to remain this way, banks may soon take over the company, like Etisalat,” he said.