Oando Crisis: Minority shareholders accuse SEC of cover-up 

Court arrests Oando’s oil rigs over N4.7bn debt 

Minority shareholders of Oando Plc under the aegis of the Proactive Shareholders Assoiation of Nigeria (PROSAN) have submitted a fresh petition to the House Committee on Capital Market and other Institutions, accusing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of shielding Oando Plc from probe. 

The petition, signed by Taiwo Oderinde and Barrister Nnodu Okeke, the National Coordinator and Legal Adviser respectively of the association, was dated February 21, 2018 and titled “Dangerous And Malicious Deliberate Attempts By The Acting Director-General, Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) To Cover Up Oando Nigeria Plc And Protect The Company From Forensic Audit”. 

While commending the House Committee on its unrelenting efforts to sanitise the Nigerian capital market and to make it one of the best in the world, PROSAN said the time had come to take decisive action on the forensic audit of Oando Plc. 

According to the petition, “Oando Nigeria Plc has for four years consecutively suffered incredible losses with the loss in 2014 described as unprecedented in the history of capital market operations in Nigeria. While the company continues to record losses, the management has continued to increase the remuneration of Board members in manner that insults and provokes the sensibility of Investors that have committed their hard-earned funds into the company. 

“The company has continued to accrue debt to the point that its liabilities have now surpassed its assets. In the same vein, the management of the company led by Mr Adewale Tinubu resorted to selling company’s assets in evidently questionable fashion as corroborated by the external auditors, Ernst & Young. According to the auditors’ note in the last annual report presented at the controversial Annual General Meeting (AGM), held in Uyo, on September 11, 2017, the company is in dying state and might cease to exist very soon. The Auditors, Ernst & Young stated: ‘We are drawing attention to note 45 in the financial statements, which indicates that the company reported a comprehensive loss for the year of N33.9 billion (2015: loss N56.6 billion) and as at that date, its current assets exceeded current liabilities by N14.6 billion (2015: N32.8 billion net current liability). The group recorded a comprehensive income of N112.4 billion for the year ended December 31, 2016 (2015: loss N37.8 billion) and as at that date, its current liability exceeded current assets by N263.8 billion (2015: N260.4 billion)’. 

“As stated in the notes, these conditions, along with other matters, indicate that a material uncertainty exist that may cast significant doubt on the company (and Group’s) ability to continue as a going concern.”

PROSAN recalled that its earlier petition to the lawmakers on the state of Oando Plc prompted it to direct the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate various allegations against the oil giant. 

“Being the regulator that is primarily responsible for protecting Investors in the Capital market, SEC instituted a consortium of experts commissioned to carry out a forensic audit on the company. 

“Upon the announcement of the consortium, the management of Oando Nigeria Plc has continued to desperately explore diverse avenues to frustrate the forensic audit, which the management of the company clearly fears would reveal more than is already known. 

“The company sought to stop the forensic audit by challenging the decision in court, but appropriate justice was delivered and the company lost,” the petition stated. 

They said since Munir Gwarzo was suspended as the Director-General of SEC by the Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun on November 29, 2017, the present management has shown a lack of willingness to continue with the forensic audit of Oando as directed by the lawmakers. 

The shareholders group therefore prayed the lawmakers to “urgently invite the acting Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr. Abdul Zubair, to ascertain the authenticity of the forensic audit team set-up to probe Oando Nigeria Plc”. 

They also want SEC to convince shareholders that there will not be compromise in the Oando probe. 

The shareholders group also insisted that “the management of Oando led by Mr. Wale Tinubu steps aside until the result of the forensic audit is released to the public” so as pave way for an unhindered exercise. 

“It may interest the honourable chairman that shareholders who bought the shares of Oando Nigeria Plc at N95 have lost more than 90% of their investments while the company’s CEO is acquiring new expensive automobiles and jets. 

“Many of our members have become victims of hypertension watching their investments tumble without any hope for salvage in sight. Many have even died as a result of this uncertainty that has engulfed the company,” the group added.