ICPC Arraigns Suspended SEC DG, Gwarzo Over Alleged Fraud

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned the suspended Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, before a Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Maitama.

He has been arraigned on charges bordering on criminal breach of trust and aiding diversion of funds.

The anti-graft commission also preferred charges against the SEC Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services, Zakwanu Garuba, for allegedly conniving with Gwarzo to commit the fraud.

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Gwarzo and his co-defendant, Zakawani Garba on Tuesday pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them before the trial judge, Justice Baba-Yusuf.

According to the charge, Gwarzo is facing trial for allegedly fraudulently enriching himself with N104.9 million which was paid to him as severance allowance while he was still in active service at the commission.

He is also accused of enriching himself with N10 million paid in excess of his official car allowances.

Garuba was accused of abusing his office by allowing the payments to Gwarzo.

The two defendants are being charged to court by the ICPC on behalf of the Federal Government.

Gwarzo’s Counsel, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, on Tuesday made application for bail. He asked the court to grant his client bail on the same terms and conditions which ICPC had done prior to the arraignment.

ICPC’s lawyer, Henry Emore in agreement said the offence for which the defendants are standing trial are bailable.

The defendants were eventually granted bail to the sum of N25 million each and one surety who must be a deputy director in the Federal Civil Service and own a landed property in Abuja.

They are were also directed to deposit their travel documents to the court registrar as part of their bail conditions.

The court adjourned the case for further hearing till June 29.

Gwarzo was suspended as SEC Boss in November 2017, by the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun.

On Monday, June 4, he challenged his suspension in court.

In a suit filed at the National Industrial Court Gwarzo is contending that the Minister of Finance has no power to suspend him as SEC DG and that it is only the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that can suspend him with the approval of the Senate.

Reps recommend Oteh’s sack, say her appointment is illegal

The House of Representatives on Thursday called for the immediate sack of the Director General of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunma Oteh, insisting that her appointment was illegal.

Considering the report of its ad-hoc committee on the probe of the near collapse of the capital market, the lawmakers unanimously approved the recommendation that the Ms Oteh be sacked for incompetence and inadequate qualification for the role she is playing.

Giving a summary of the findings of the investigation before commencement of the clause by clause consideration, The Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi (PDP, Taraba) defended the recommendation, explaining that Ms Oteh’s appointment was in violation of the investment and security act, 2007.

The lawmaker objected to the decision of the presidency to bring back Ms Oteh when an investigation on her was still pending.

The house also approved the recommendation that “in view of the breakdown of corporate governance in SEC, leading to total collapse of cooperation and coordination within its board and top management and since the tenure of the board has expired, top management of SEC should be relieved of their duties so as to give the capital market an opportunity of credible regulation through appointment of a neutral board and top management that will regain the confidence of investors.”

Section 3 ( 2 ) a and Section 38 ( 1 ) ( b ), 2 and 3, Section 315 of the investment and Security Act, 2007 stipulates that anyone that will be appointed as the DG of SEC must possess up to 15 years experience in the Nigerian Capital Market, a requirement the lawmakers said Ms Oteh does not possess.

“She has shown incompetence in the management of human and material resources at her disposal in Security and Exchange Commission.”

The lawmakers also called on the SEC to prevail on the Nigerian Stock Exchange to activate and strengthen the Investor Protection Fund (IPF).

They also urged the Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke to prosecute the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido, Mustafa Chike-Obi, the Managing Director of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCON) and Ms Oteh, for contempt of the House of Representatives.
According to the lawmakers, the public officers contravened Section 4 and 11 (b) of the legislative House powers by refusing to produce documents as requested by the ad -hoc committee.

Furthermore, the lawmakers asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC) to investigate Ms Oteh and Mr Chike-Obi, and the Managing Director of Union Bank Plc, Funke Osibodu over the missing N8 billion arising from the Union Bank Public Offer.

Drama at National Economic management meeting as Oteh takes DG SEC’s seat

A mild drama ensued on Tuesday at the Presidential villa as the recently suspended Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunma Oteh attempted to attend the Economic Management Meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Ms Oteh was a member of the economic management team by virtue of her former position as the DG SEC.

However, with her suspension, it is expected that she would cease to be a member and give way to the acting DG, Ibrahim Bello, to take over her membership.

Ms Oteh made a dramatic appearance at the venue of the meeting at about 1.30pm on Tuesday.

She was still settling down on the seat reserved for DG SEC when a female protocol official approached her and engaged her in a discussion.

Immediately after the short discussion, Ms Oteh, holding tenaciously to her two handbags, and the protocol official left the council chambers. They both headed towards the president’s office.

Five minutes later, the female official returned without the former SEC DG. But no sooner had the official returned than Ms Oteh re-appeared at the venue.

She placed her handbags beside her seat and walked to the other side of the hall to hold consultation with the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

After the consultation, Ms Oteh left the venue with her two bags and again headed towards the president’s office.

She again returned to the venue a few minutes after and took her seat.

Shortly after her final return, President Goodluck Jonathan arrived the venue and the meeting commenced.

SEC boss accuses lawmakers probing her of demanding N39 million bribe

Another drama ensued on Thursday at the House of Representative Committee on Capital Market and other Financial Institution’s public hearing on capital market as the Director General (DG) of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Oteh Arunma accuses the Chairman of the House of Rep Committee on Capital Market, Herman Hembe of demanding bribe from her.

Ms Arunma said that the Committee Chairman had demanded a bribe of N39 million from SEC for the ongoing hearing.

She further accused Mr Hembe of demanding N5million from the commission to enable him travel to the Dominican Republic to attend an Emerging market conference without embarking on the journey.

The DG made these accusations in response to the claims by the Committee that she has mismanaged the affairs of the commission and the committee was out to tarnish her intergrity.

She questioned the credibility of the Chairman of the committee  in conducting the probe, considering her allegations.

In his response, Mr Hembe noted all the allegations listed by the SEC and subjected himself and the committee to another probe which he ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to take up.

Ms Arunnma described the probe as a ‘Kangaroo court’, and likened the probe to an era of former Uganda leader, Idi Amin, saying “not even during the Idi Amin regime, did we have this kind of session.”

The visibly angry former Vice-President of the Agriculture Development Bank, who was questioned about her competence to preside over the SEC, the day before, brought all her credentials and narrated her career path to the sitting. She demanded an explanation why the committee chairman questioned her integrity despite her screening by the Senate.

She stated that she was warned before her appointment, over two years ago, that “corruption will fight back at me.”

Illegal purchaes

The Chairman of the House of Rep Committee on Capital Market also questioned the Legal Commissioner and the Director of Finance on the rational of buying three Toyota Hilux vehicles for N32 million without following the procurement act of passing the resolution to buy the vehicles through the proper tenders’ board.

The Executive Commissioner Legal and Enforcement, Charles Udora confirmed that a memo to buy the vehicle was raised but that he refused to sign it.

He said he did not sign the tender bid to buy the vehicle because he did not attend the tenders’ board meeting where the purchase of the vehicle was resolved, “and as the most senior lawyer in the commission, I cannot sign the memo.”

The commission’s Finance Director said though he did not attend the tenders’ board meeting, he signed the memo assuming that the meeting held as a ‘virtual meeting’.

The committee resolved that the tender board meeting never held and that the memo was passed around for people to sign.

Mr Hembe said though the public procurement acts categorically states that the Secretary of the tenders’ board must be the director of the procurement department or someone from the department nominated by the director, in SEC the Secretary is a staff from the tenders’ board secretariat.

SEC paid N62 million as rent for DG

The committee asked the management of the commission to explain a memo that was issued by the Technical adviser to the DG, Franca Chukwuogu to the Head of Administration.

In the Memo (CADEO) dated 26/01/2011 Ms Chukwuogu had demanded through the head of Administration that the commission pay the rent for a five bedroom bungalow as the official rent for the DG.

Another Memo from the Head of Administration, Bello Ibrahim showed that the rent for the five bedroom apartment at Maitama district of Abuja cost the commission over N62 million.

The Committee asked the management of the commission to explain why it paid the rent of the DG despite the enactment of the monetisation policy by the Federal government.

Furthermore, the committee questioned the rational of the commission for paying the bill of the DG who on appointment stayed at the Hilton Hotel for eight months instead of the 28 days recommended by civil service rule.

The committee also accused the management of SEC of abandoning its own training institute – The Nigeria Capital Market Institute (NCMI) while dishing out training contracts to private consulting firms.

It took the intervention of the Chief Whip of the House of Representative, Mukthar Mohammed, who was present at the hearing, to calm the exchange of words between the committee’s Chairman and the SEC boss.

Mr Hembe adjourned further hearing on the matter to next Tuesday.