Why Gwarzo, SEC DG was suspended

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By Odunewu Segun

More facts are beginning to emerge on why Mounir Gwarzo, the Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) was suspended from office by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, National Daily has learnt.

The suspension, it was learnt might not be unconnected with Gwarzo decision not to halt the forensic probe of Oando Plc when the minister instructed him to.

Gwarzo, National Daily gathered, had insisted on a forensic audit of Oando over allegations of irregularities, notably the increased trading in the company’s shares before its declaration of a N183 billion loss — said to be the biggest in Nigeria’s corporate history.

National Daily gathered that at a meeting held on Monday, 27th of November, 2017, between Gwarzo and Adeosun, the suspended DG instructed him to drop the forensic probe.

Present at the meeting were the permanent secretary of the ministry, Mahmud Isa Dutse, and the director in charge of the legal department in the ministry.

The following day, Gwarzo wrote a letter to Adeosun, asking for a written instruction and he was suspended a day after.

In the letter titled “Investigation of Oando Plc”, Gwarzo said: “Pursuant to our meeting on the above subject held on Monday, November 27, 2017, I am compelled to advice you ma, on the implication of the verbal directive issued to me in which you stated that the SEC should discontinue the forensic audit on Oando Plc and hold a tripartite meeting with Legal Officers of the Commission, Oando Plc and the Federal Ministry of Finance, with the purpose of coming up with penalties which would be issued to top officials of Oando Plc in their personal capacity for payment.

In the letter, Gwarzo stressed the need to continue with the investigation in other not to erode the confidence of both local and international investors in the Nigerian capital market.

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“Furthermore, as you may be aware, the activities around the investigation of Oando Plc are being closely monitored by the local and global investment community and they eagerly expect the outcome of the exercise.”Gwarzo had stated in the letter.

He said the action of SEC in the last three years which have led to about 87 per cent reduction in infractions in the market would be eroded if it was seen as going back on the Oando investigation.

“One major infraction alleged against Oando Plc is financial mismanagement. Honourable Minister, given that the consequent effect of such allegation is being borne by the over 274,000 shareholders of Oando, it is only proper that a process which would reveal the status of this allegation to ascertain its veracity or otherwise be embarked upon in a transparent manner.

“The Commission therefore as the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market, has the responsibility to ensure that a thorough, independent and transparent process is put in place to unravel the true financial status of the company.

National Daily gathered that Gwarzo had also insisted that the minister put her instruction in writing, and this had angered the minister.

The minister then without mincing words reminded him that there were petitions bordering on financial impropriety and that he should have been suspended a long time ago.

But the office of the minister has denied the allegation, maintaining that Gwarzo was suspended following allegations that he was carting away documents to undermine a petition against him.