VIDEO: Hembe resigns, accuses SEC of bribing him

Channels Television  
Updated March 20, 2012

The Chairman, House of Representatives committee on Capital Market and other Financial Institution, Herman Hembe on Tuesday stepped down as the chairman of the committee conducting a public hearing on the activities of the Nigeria Stock Exchange and the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Mr Hembe’s resignation is connected to the allegations by the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of SEC, Arunma Oteh who last Thursday accused him of demanding a bribe of N39 million from SEC for the on-going public hearing.

Ms Oteh also accused the lawmaker of collecting money from the commission to enable him travel to the Dominican Republic to attend an Emerging Market Conference without embarking on the journey. She said Mr Hembe failed to return the money he claimed as estacode to the commission.

Addressing the House while tendering his resignation, Mr Hembe said the allegations of the SEC boss were unfounded.

““I demanded no bribe and took no bribe but rather fought hard to resist any such temptation,” he said.

Mr Hembe said that he is aware of the impact of the “false allegation on public perception.”

“And as a legal practitioner, I am conversant with the principle of law that in the exercise of judicial or quasi-judicial function, it becomes inappropriate to continue to preside when allegations bordering on pecuniary interest are make against your person,” he said.

The lawmaker said that he is ready to submit himself to legal scrutiny and willing to face the House of Representatives’ committee on ethics and privilege.

He therefore tendered his resignation as the head of the committee but affirmed that he will head to the court to clear his name “that has been marred.”

The House Chief Whip, Ishaku Bawa, asked the house to accept the decision of Mr Hembe to step down. He also asked the house to name an ad hoc committee as well as mandate the Ethics committee to probe the allegation of bribery against Mr Hembe and his committee.

The speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal accepted the resignation of Mr Hembe from chairing the investigative public hearing on the Capital Market and named Tukur Sudi from Taraba state as the new ad hoc Chairman of the public. The Speaker also named other members of the ad hoc committee that will continue the investigative hearing.

Mr Tambuwal said that the ad hoc committee have 21 days to complete its assignment.

SEC offered me N30 million bribe

In announcing his stepping down Mr Hembe added a new twist to the episode by accusing Ms Oteh of offering him a N30 million bribe.

“I made no attempt to collect any bribe, rather I worked hard to avoid the offer of such by the SEC DG,” he said.

He based his accusations on some internal memo from SEC.

The memos obtained by Channels Television indicated that the SEC boss was informed of the public hearing and the invitation to the hearing by a departmental head named Hassan Mamman who suggested to the DG that the commission “co-sponsor” the three weeks public hearing.

“It is our considered opinion that doing this will be of immense benefit to the nation’s capital market,” Mr Hassan wrote.

The SEC DG advised contacts could be made to “cement our relationship with NASS” and the fact that the hearing will “favour the purpose of our capital market.”

A follow-up letter on March 9, purportedly written after the committee had been contacted, told Ms. Oteh of how the lawmakers “welcomed this development and accordingly forwarded a budget estimate.”

The memo recommended that “two items only” from the budget be sponsored. That included live coverage (N26.2 million) and Secretariat needs (N4.2 million) totalling NN30.4 million.

On that letter, Ms Oteh minuted “You may consider.”