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However, the dust generated by the absence from duty, which the government has since described as procedural when investigation is being carried on senior officers in any government agencies, will take time to abate as huge investment especially foreign Direct Investment has been loss in the process.
It is a norm in other jurisdiction that, an accused can only be found guilty when a competent court decides so; but in our domestic economy, even in our ordinary daily business transaction; a suspect is guilty as charged, until a court of law decides otherwise.
From all intents and purposes, the allegation of financial impropriety levied on the SEC DG by the House of Representative Committee on Capital Market and Other Investment, probing the Commission might have been done in a hurry, owing to the fact that she hard the effrontery to take the men at the lower house to the cleaners. Because as the law says; whoever must come to equity must come with clean hands, and must be seen to be above aboard in all matters of endeavours.
So one would have expected that the whole financial issues at the Commission, and looking at it holistically is the needful and proper step that ought to be taken in a decent economy where the interest of people should be uppermost at heart.
Although the audit firm might have come out with its findings, which is based on the mandate it was given, the issue of estacodes collected without being utilized and the breach of corporate governance which is also a common phenomenon in other government agencies are germane issues that should not be ignored even as the SEC DG only receive a slap on her wrist for these misdemeanours.
It is high time, the three arms of government be made accountable to the people, because the collective will of the people overseen by some selected privilege few, must be generously guided to avoid any flaws.
There is no doubt that in any jurisdiction, once the regulatory body overseeing establishments that has to do with money cannot be trusted, then businesses or simply put, the stock market which serves as the barometer in measuring the growth or otherwise of the economy can hardly be sustained.
Oteh had been suspended last month after allegation of financial recklessness was levelled against her. The issue was taken up by the National Assembly but it ended controversially as a result of accusations and counter-accusations from Oteh and members of the ad-hoc Committee of the House of Representatives which had the responsibility of probing her and her activities at the Commission.
The dust raised by Ms. Oteh did lead to the resignation of Heman Hembe and other members of his committee. The EFCC and the ICPC had since taken over the matter in the dramatic revelations in the House and have promised a thorough investigation. All these are salutary steps. But investors’ worry is that probes and investigations have become so commonplace in Nigeria that the common man has become wary of them. At the end of it all, nobody will be held responsible for the acts, as sordid as they seem.
Among the sundry allegations against Oteh were that the SEC approved the sum of N66.1 million to rent an official apartment for the DG in Abuja after she had spent a whooping N30 million on hotel accommodation at Transcorp Hilton in eight months (seven months more than her legally allowed period of stay) while simultaneously receiving the financial entitlements due an un-accommodated Director General. She was also accused of spending N42.5 million to procure three Toyota vehicles without a tender’s board meeting in breach of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and of spending N850,000 (later clarified as N85, 000) for just a meal eaten by a team of experts.
In recalling Oteh, the Federal Government has said that “decision of the Board of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to send you on compulsory leave in order to enable SEC’s external auditors-the Price Water Coopers Limited (PWC), to examine the records of the Commission’s transactions covering SEC project 50 which you supervised.
“I am to note that Government has studied the report submitted by the external auditors and you are neither indicted for fraud nor criminal breach in any form. However, some administrative lapses were reported, particularly, in cases where administrative procedures were not thoroughly observed.
“The purpose of this letter is to recall you from your leave and to caution that you must henceforth endeavour to diligently observe all extant rules and administrative procedures in the conduct of all official transactions.”
It is instructive that the only way out is for all stakeholders to go back to the drawing board and to ensure that they do more than they talk.
Without mincing words there is need for the total overhaul of the equities market by the Federal Government, to reflect current trend in the international market.
The government moves will enable it put in place, a more vibrant market that will make confidence return to the market and further ensure that investors recoup their investment in the shortest possible time.