THE House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the near collapse of the nation’s capital market and the embattled Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh, are on a collision course again following the refusal of the SEC boss to appear before the panel on Tuesday.
Consequently, the chairman of the panel, Honourable Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi, has threatened that if the SEC boss fails to appear before the committee today [Wednesday] it will invoke necessary provisions of the law against her and get her arrested.
El-Sudi, who was visibly angry while reading Ms Oteh’s letter dated May 8, 2012 and addressed to the committee’s chairman, said that her action was an effrontery to the National Assembly which would not be condoned, adding “if she fails to appear before the panel alongside her commissioners, she would face the wrath of the National Assembly.”
Speaking further, El-Sudi said, “the content of the letter to this committee has an aura of arrogance and looks down upon the integrity and authority of the National Assembly. This committee has been fair to everyone that appeared before it. We will not sit here and allow anybody to undermine the National Assembly.
“SEC appearance before this committee or any of the National Assembly committee is not a matter of personal idiosyncracy or discretion. Ms Arunma Oteh is hereby ordered to appear before this committee by 10.00 a.m. tomorrow [Wednesday] unfailingly, otherwise we shall be compelled to invoke the necessary provisions of the law,” he declared.
The embattled SEC boss’s letter to the panel chairman reads in part: “I write respectfully to inform you that I am unable to attend the public hearings today, because I will be attending the National Economic Management Team (NEMT) meeting, chaired by the president, His Excellency, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
“As you would recall, the Securities and Exchange Commission had dutifully and diligently entered appearances at the hearing in spite of the several rescheduling at the instance of the committee since the 17th of April. This has forced me and the commission to cancel and in several cases reschedule important official commitments.
“I therefore crave your indulgence to permit me to respond to any additional questions that you may have in writing, being that you had already given the commission an opportunity to present and interact with the committee for five hours yesterday [Monday]. While I had asked for permission to present ahead of the CEO of the NSE, to enable me [to] attend the power retreat, chaired by the president, you indicated that you were taking the CEO, NSE first because he was due to travel. I confirm that I am due to attend the same programme but delayed my departure for one day to enable me [to] attend the monthly NEMT chaired by His Excellency.
“We are respectful of the role and mission of the ad hoc committee and will render every support required by the committee to effectively and efficiently carry out its mandate. We appreciate the sacrifice that you and the committee members have made since the hearing started to ensure that all stakeholders have adequate opportunities to interact with the committee,” Oteh had written.
Meanwhile, a former Director-General of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Professor Ndidi Okereke-Onyiuke, has debunked the allegations of misappropriation of investors’ fund and other sharp practices levelled against her by the embattled SEC boss, saying that she [Oteh] lied against her in all her presentations before the panel.
According to her, “the stock exchange does not take public funds; it has no direct dealing with the public; it deals with the public through the stockbrokers and regulate those stockbrokers. I want Nigerians to know that the stock exchange did not take money from anybody. These accounts are fully audited from 2002-2009.
“NSE is not a profit-making organisation that will say it has profit to share. And the stock exchange never shared any money to council members, stock exchange gave money to council members to go on educational tours to learn on the workings of the stock exchange. Even if we did, the money belongs to the stock exchange. Unlike the people that use government money to do other things, stock exchange money is not government money; it is not public money either,” she stated.
On her removal from the NSE, she said that before her removal, the SEC DG invaded her office in commando style and carted away her desktop computers and vital documents, stressing that “I do not want to go back to the stock exchange, otherwise a Federal High Court has made declarative judgment that I am still the substantive DG of NSE. So whether they removed me or not, I am still the DG. NSE has no DG yet and the man that is there is not DG and he even carved another nomenclature for himself as the Chief Executive Officer, which is alien to the market.”
She also claimed that “the present administration of the SEC and NSE has done nothing new other than what we draw up in the document I left in the office before my removal. Demutualisation is a plan of the NSE’s administration as far back as 2009/2010. The word demutualisation was introduced in Nigeria by myself.”
She also claimed that the market was robust and doing fine at the time she left the office, stressing that “the exchange was stable and robust when I was preparing to leave office but the market was plundered by the inexperience of the people managing it after I left office,” she said.