Counsel to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), disclosed on Monday that the forensic audit of Oando Plc ordered by SEC has already started.
Speaking while opposing a motion file by Oando’s lawyer, Mr. Seyi Sowemimo (SAN), asking a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to make an order preserving the res on the technical suspension of the shares of the embattled oil and gas firm; Idigbe said “the suspension of the trading of the plaintiff’s shares in the Nigerian Stock Exchange has already been completed.”
Idigbe argued that the issues canvassed by Oando in its appeal of an earlier judgment by the presiding judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, “are not substantial in law.”
Oando had earlier approached the court to challenge SEC’s suspension of its shares and an audit of its business activities by forensic experts hired by SEC. However, the court, in a ruling on November 23, 2017, struck out Oando’s suit, saying it had no jurisdiction to entertain it.
The judge ruled that only the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST) can preside over the matter.
He said that it was in the best interest of investors, shareholders and members of the general public that SEC placed Oando’s shares under technical suspension in the course of the forensic audit.
The technical suspension, he argued, was to prevent panic and dumping of Oando’s shares by investors and members of the public.
He said there was no point for Justice Aikawa to make an order preserving the res because “the suspension of the trading of the plaintiff’s shares in the Nigerian Stock Exchange has already been completed.”
According to him, “The forensic examination of the plaintiff’s business activities has already commenced and the parties are waiting for the report of the said investigation.
“The temporary suspension of trading of the shares is not a punitive action against the plaintiff but a device to protect the shares of the plaintiff from further decline because of the investigation.
“The undertaking of the forensic examination of the plaintiff by independent experts will not prevent a return to status quo if the appeal succeeds.”
Sowemimo prayed for time to file a reply to Idigbe’s counter-affidavit.
Justice Aikawa adjourned further proceedings in the case till Wednesday, December 13.