Prosecutor’s Absence Stalls Trial Of Suspended SEC DG Gwarzo

Gwarzo

 

A Federal Capital Territory High Court has adjourned the trial of the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, after the lead prosecutor Ibrahim Adeshina failed to show up in court for the continuation of the trial.

At the resumed hearing, a representative of the prosecutor Agbili Ezenwa told the court that his principal is out of the country and urged the court to grant an adjournment to enable him to appear at the next adjourned date.

Counsel to the former SEC DG, Abdulrasheed Al-Mustapha, in responding to the application, asked the court to direct the prosecution to open its conclude its case at the next adjourned date tenable for his client to enter a defence.

Justice Hussein Yusuf adjourned the matter to the October 18 and 19 respectively for the continuation of the trial.

Gwarzo is being arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) on a five-count charge of misappropriating 115 million naira.

ICPC also accused him of using his position to confer corrupt advantages upon himself when he received N104.8m as severance benefit when he was yet to retire.

He is also accused of receiving N10.98m in excess car grant among others.

Public Service Rule Quoted By Adeosun Does Not Exist – Gwarzo

The former Director General (DG) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, on Tuesday during the House of Representatives Investigative Hearing on his suspension faulted the public service rule quoted by the Minister of Finance in his letter of suspension.

Reading from the letter, which was signed by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun dated November 29, 2017, at the hearing, Gwarzo said the rule quoted by Adeosun does not exist and doesn’t have the power to suspend him.

“I refer to your representation dated November 8, 2017, and further enquiries undertaken by this Ministry and based on the information available to this ministry. I have been convinced of the need for a thorough investigation to be undertaken. In order to ensure an unhindered process. You are hereby suspended from office from the date of this letter,” he read.

Drawing attention to the last paragraph of his suspension letter, Gwarzo read further.

READ ALSO: Reps Begins Investigative Hearing On Suspended SEC DG

“This suspension is in line with the public service rule 03405 and public service rule 03406 pending the conclusion of the investigation.”

He, however, claimed that this public service rule quoted by the Minister of Finance is wrong.

“What we are saying is, this public service rule that she quoted does not exist in the public service rule. Her intention is to make reference to 030405 rather than 03405. That 03405 does not give the Honourable Minister the power to suspend the DG of SEC,” he said.

Making further reference to the Public Service Rule, Gwarzo said the Securities and Exchange Commission as a public service institution has its own policies and cannot be influenced by external factors.

“If you look at the Public Service Rule, which is 160103, it clearly states that, for an institution that already has their own policies, they should be guided by that. My letter of appointment clearly states that my letter of appointment will be governed by the provisions of the Investment and Securities Act.

“So, the question is, what instrument did the honourable Minister use or rely on in my suspension. What she quoted does not exist,” he insisted.

The public hearing on the need to intervene in the conflict between the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the suspended DG of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Mounir Gwarzo, commenced on December 21, 2017, but was rescheduled for January 2018, due to Adeosun’s absence.

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Institutions, Yusuf Tajudeen at the hearing, last year, read a letter from the Minister of Finance asking for permission to attend the Federal Executive Council meeting.

Reps Begins Investigative Hearing On Suspended SEC DG

The House of Representatives is currently holding a public hearing on the suspension of the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Mounir Gwarzo by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun.

The hearing is conducted by the House Committee on Capital Market and Institutions.

Chairman of the committee, Mr Tajudeen Yusuf, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker representing Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency of  Kogi State, along with his fellow colleagues are grilling the stakeholders.

In attendance are the Finance Minister, suspended SEC boss among several other workers in the parastatal and ministry.

Adeosun had in November last year suspended the Director-General of the SEC, Mr Mounir Gwarzo and replaced him with Dr Abdul Zubair as the acting Director General.

The House had earlier in December 21 last year launched a hearing to probe the rift between the due over an alleged financial impropriety levelled against the former by the latter.

Garwzor was suspended to allow for an unhindered investigation of several allegations of corruption.

Meanwhile, Adeosun while addressing reporters in Abuja, said the decision to suspend Mr Gwarzo was in accordance with laid down rules and aimed at sanitising the nation’s capital market to protect investor confidence.

She debunked the claim that the decision was to stall the forensic audit of Oando Plc.

“The federal Ministry of finance would like to place on record that Gwarzo suspension is in line with public service rules to allow for an unhindered investigation of serious allegations of financial impropriety against him. Some of those allegations for which we have documented evidence include the award of contracts to companies related to him and members of his family.”

 

Reps To Probe Suspension Of SEC DG By Adeosun

The House of Representatives has resolved to probe the suspension of the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr Mounir Gwarzo.

Gwarzo was earlier suspended by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, on Wednesday, November 9, over the allegation of financial impropriety and to allow for an unhindered investigation of several allegations of financial impropriety leveled against him.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday mandated it’s committee on Capital Market and Institutions to investigate the allegations and circumstances that led to the suspension of Gwarzo.

This resolution follows a motion of urgent public importance by a lawmaker, Diri Douye, who also informed the House of allegations of interference by the Ministry of finance in the activities of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The house is asking all parties in the matter to maintain status quo pending the outcome of the investigation of the house.

The committee is expected to report back in two weeks.

Adeosun on Wednesday, November 29 also suspended two management staff of the SEC, Mr. Abdulsalam Naif Habu, Head of Media Division and Mrs Anastasia Omozele Braimoh, Head of Legal Department for alleged involvement in financial impropriety.

Dr Abdul Zubair has since been appointed as the acting Director General of the Commission.

Adeosun Suspends SEC DG, Two Others

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has suspended the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Mounir  Gwarzo.

Gwarzo is suspended in order to allow for an unhindered investigation of several allegations of financial impropriety leveled against him.

This was contained in a statement signed by Deputy Director, Press, Federal Ministry of Finance, Patricia Deworitshe on Wednesday, November 29.

The suspension is in line with the Public Service Rules (PSRs) 03405 and 03406.

The Minister has therefore set up an Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API) to investigate and determine the culpability of the Director-General.

The statement added that “She has directed the suspended SEC Director-General to immediately hand over to the most senior officer at the Commission, pending the conclusion of the investigation by the API.”

“Also suspended are two management staff of the Commission – Mr Abdulsalam Naif Habu, Head of Media Division and Mrs Anastasia Omozele Braimoh, Head of Legal Department – who have been alleged to engage in financial impropriety in the Commission.”

Allegations against Director General include an alleged collection of severance package in the sum of N104,851,154.94 while still in service.

He is also reported to be the Director of Medusa Investment Limited which is a violation of Public Service Rules (PRS) 030424.

He is also reported to have awarded contracts to the same company and other companies to which he is related, thus resulting in a conflict of interest, among other allegations.

Farouk’s Removal Was For Performance Sake – House Spokesman

The House of Representatives has explained that the removal of Mr. Farouk Lawan as the chairman of the House committee on education was not to confirm his alleged involvement in a bribery scam but to allow the committee operate optimally while the case is being handled in the court.

Briefing correspondents, spokesman of the House, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, however, raised concerns that out of the two parties alleged to have participated in the bribery incident, only one has been arrested and charged to court while the other walks around free.

Mr. Lawan was allegedly nailed for bribery by the Chairman of Zenon Gas and Oil, Femi Otedola who claimed that he blew the whistle on the former chairman of the House Commitee on Fuel Subsidy Probe,  alleging that he requested the sum of $3 million to remove the name of his (Otedola’s) company from the list of indicted companies in the subsidy probe.

Mr. Otedola claimed it was a sting operation involving the State Security Service. He also claimed there was a video evidence to prove that Mr. Lawan collected part of the agreed sum.

 

Oteh resumes at SEC

Despite the controversies surrounding her re-call, the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunma Oteh has resumed SEC today.

Ms Oteh’s resumption was confirmed to Channels Television on the telephone by the commission’s Public Relations Officer.

The embattled SEC DG was, last week,  recalled from a compulsory leave slammed on her following allegations of financial recklessness. A firm of external auditors was subsequently engaged to examine SEC’s books.

The auditors, however, were said to have found nothing against Ms Oteh which prompted the federal government to recall her last week.

But this did not go down well with some members of staff as they staged a protest against  her recall.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister for the economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was said to have met with the commission’s staff on Friday where she told them to sheathe their swords as Ms Oteh has been found to be innocent of allegations against her. It was also gathered that Ms Okonjo-Iweala told the protesting staff that it was illegal for them to form unions at the commission.

The SEC boss, a former top official of the African Development Bank was seen as an outsider by some interests who also were not comfortable with  her hard decisions in the efforts to restore sanity and investor’s confidence in the nation’s battered capital market.

Compulsory leave: Oteh vows to fight back

The embattled Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC), Arunma Oteh, is set to petition President Goodluck Jonathan to reverse the order by the SEC board asking her to proceed on compulsory leave.

 Following her vow not to take the issue lying down, a  close aide of  Ms Oteh, Obi Adindu, said the decision sending her on compulsory leave was taken to ridicule her as well as pursue an agenda of tenure extension.

Ms Oteh’s communications adviser Obi Adindu said her next line of action, because she is a firm believer in due process, would be to make her representations to her employers.

“She will communicate what has happened now to her employers and also look at due process to ensure that not too much under-the-table dealings led to this decision by the board,” he said.

A statement by SEC on Tuesday, noted that its board had directed Oteh to proceed on compulsory leave to enable the commission to investigate issues arising from the recent probe of the capital market decline by the House of Representatives.