By Omotilewa Quadri
The suspended Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Munir Gwarzo has said that the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun called him to her office and told him to stop the forensic investigation and the suspension placed on Oando Plc, and asked him to resign or risk being suspended.
He made this revelation on Tuesday in Abuja at the public hearing on the need to intervene in the conflict involving him and the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun by the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Institutions. He stated that the minister threatened him either to resign or risk being suspended.
“On the 18th October, we directed that the shares of Oando should be put on technical suspension and we also informed the public that a forensic audit will be undertaken on Oando.
“The following day 19th October, the honorable Minister of Finance invited me to her office and queried the power that I had to carry out the investigation and I explained to her that the law has given the power to do the investigation.
“She told me to lift the technical suspension placed on Oando, the Permanent Secretary was also in attendance and it was on Friday. I tried to reason with her why it was not necessary to lift the suspension but she told me that it was important to do that.
“So we went for prayer and we came back at 4:00pm, another meeting was convened,” he revealed.
On the N104.8 million as severance, Gwazo stated that he is entitled to it adding that the same board that approved his predecessor, Aruma Oteh, gave the approval. He denied any wrongdoing in his action.
In her own submission to the committee, Adeosun explained the decision to suspend Gwarzo was necessary with the view to instilling confidence in the capital market. The minister noted that the action was to preempt other action that may paint the capital market in a bad light.
She justified the action taken as chairman of the board of SEC adding that the director general violated the civil service rules.
On the allegation leveled against the minister that some of her family members have shares in Oando, the minister denied the claim saying that it was not true. Adeosun also debunked the insinuation that she told Gwarzo to stop the forensic investigation and lift the suspension on Oando.
She pointed that contrary to the claim of Gwarzo that he has resigned from the company he brought since 2012 that evidence from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) shown that he was still a shareholder, director, and signatory to the account of the company.
“We have bank transaction evidence. At the same time we received information from staff of SEC that documents are being removed and we knew that we need to do further investigation and we still have him at the helms of affair of SEC and that was when we took a decision to suspend him,” Adesoun stated.
Also speaking at the hearing, the Director Legal Ministry of Finance, Christopher Gabriel explained that the minister exercised the power and function of the board of SEC.
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