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Operators seek govt’s intervention in SEC, Oando face-off

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Operators in the Nigerian capital market have called for urgent intervention of the Federal Government in the face-off between the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Oando Plc.

They reacted in Lagos to the outcome of a forensic audit on Oando released by SEC on May 31, as well as a court injunction restraining SEC from sacking Oando’s Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Adewale Tinubu, and his deputy, Omomofe Boyo.

The operators applauded the courage of SEC’s Acting Director-General, Ms. Mary Uduk, in releasing the outcome of the forensic audit.

Following the outcome of the forensic audit, SEC on June 2, constituted an interim management team under the leadership of Mutiu Sunmonu for Oando Plc.

It said in a statement that Sunmonu would oversee the affairs the company and conduct an Extra Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) on or before July 1, to appoint new board of directors.

The commission said that the new board of directors would subsequently select a management team for Oando Plc.

However, a Federal High Court in Lagos on June 3, granted an interim injunction restraining SEC from executing the interim management in Oando.

The injunction followed an application filed by Tinubu and Boyo, who applied for the enforcement of their fundamental rights.

The court also restrained SEC from imposing a fine of N91.13 million on Tinubu, and barring him and Boyo from being directors of public companies for five years.

Ambrose Omorodion, the Chief Operating Officer, Invest Data Ltd., said that the Federal Government would need to intervene in the matter to safeguard investors’ confidence.

Omorodion said that the unfolding events between Oando and SEC could dampen investors’ confidence and tamper with Nigeria’s integrity.

He said that the international investment community was watching to see the manner the Oando issue would be handled.

He said: “The way SEC and government will handle this issue will go a long way to determine the success of the nation’s drive for financial inclusion and attraction of new retail investors and foreign investors returning to the market.”

Omorodion also urged the government to strengthen the commission by ensuring appointment of its board members soon.

He expressed disappointment that SEC had been operating without board for about four years and had been with an acting director-general for over a year.

Moses Igbrude, Publicity Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), alleged that shareholders had suffered enough loss in Oando with no dividend and poor market pricing.

Igbrude said that court injunction could lead to long legal battles which could further affect the company’s shares price on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

He urged the exchange to place the share price on technical suspension to protect investors from further loss.

The shareholder activist said that SEC should not allow its authority to be undermined if the outcome of the forensic audit was true.

He said: “I will appeal to whoever that is affected to obey the directives from SEC for the sake of our investments. Oando as a company has suffered enough of reputational risk, adding that shareholders, for a long time, have not been paid dividend.”

Boniface Okezie, National Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), said: “The grass suffers when two elephants fight.”

Okezie said that SEC and Oando must maintain the peace in the interest of all stakeholders, especially retail investors.

The PSAN boss, who commended the commission for protecting investors, said that SEC should also beam searchlight on other oil companies quoted on the exchange.

The National President, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Shehu Mikail, said that the SEC/Oando dispute needed a holistic approach to restore confidence.

“Oando saga is a big issue in the Nigerian capital market that needs a holistic approach if really we are going to adhere to the truth of corporate governance,” Mikali said.

He said that the action of SEC was in the right direction and aimed at protecting the interest of Oando shareholders.

“Foreign investors are watching the drama and local shareholders and stakeholders are also awaiting.

“The outcome of the saga would determine the direction of the capital market,” Mikali added.

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THE NATION

Lagos: Ex-aides indict Ambode as ex-gov fails to appear before House committee

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Immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday shunned the 16-man House of Assembly Committee set up to investigate alleged shady activities of his administration, even as some commissioners who served under his administration indicted him.

The Lagos State House of Assembly is investigating the former governor in the purchase of 820 mass transit buses at about N7 billion which was not approved by the House and other issues.

The Assembly had last week threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the governor if he refused to appear before the committee to defend himself.

The committee is chaired by Hon. Fatai Mojeed.

Apart from Ambode, his former Commissioners for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade and Special Duties, Seye Oladejo were also absence.

However, Ashade and Oladejo wrote to the House explaining that they would not be available.

Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa said the Assembly would have to send Ambode invitation publicly through newspaper publication and that if he did not still appear, the next option was to issue a warrant of arrest on him.

Submissions by Ambode’s aides who appeared before the committee indicated that they were not carried along in the awards of contract with due process allegedly breached.

Olusegun Banjo, former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, during Ambode’s administration said the purchase of the 820 buses by the former governor was not rooted through his ministry.

According to him, he became commissioner in February 2018, and that he did follow the system he met on ground, which was responsible for shady transactions on the buses that were procured.

He explained that “The way the ministry is structured, it did not allow us to function well. The N24 billion did not come to my ministry. We didn’t have a running system. As a commissioner, I could not approve one naira. All the MDAs approached the Governor directly.”

Banjo added that lots of things were done under Ambode’s administration without the knowledge of commissioners, which showed lack of transparency.

He said there was no provision for the purchase of the 820 buses in the 2018 and 2019 budgets and that no Vote Of Charge (VOC) was issued from his office for the purchase.  “I never approved any VOC for it,” he said.

On unbudgeted funds, he said, “I don’t know what happens to unbudgeted funds when it comes because the ministry of finance does not inform my ministry, we don’t have a running system”.

However, Banjo said that he would make available to the House his handing over notes where he identified the lapses in the system and ways to address the them.

Accountant-General of the State, Mrs Shukrat Umar, when asked if the budget for the purchase of the buses was approved by the State Executive Council.

“The State Treasury Office acted on Exco’s approval. The buses were in line with Exco’s approval. I would not know whether the Paris Refund Club was discussed or not,” she said.

The Imota rice mill, light-up Lagos project and procurement of LASEMA Rapid Response equipment and engagement of the consultants were all done under shady circumstances as revealed by the heads of the MDA’s who were questioned by the committee members.

Former Commissioners for Agriculture and Energy, Toyin Suarau and Wale Oluwo said many the projects, including the Oshodi interchange and others were never captured in the state budget.

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THE NATION

PHOTO NEWS: Pantami attends dinner reception in honour of the newly appointed DG of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi

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The Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FIIM on Friday attended the dinner reception organized in honour of the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi by Hadejia Emirate Indigenes, taking place in Abuja.

The gathering is to facilitate with Mr Abdullahi on his appointment as the fifth Director General, NITDA.

PHOTO AND TEXT BY: The Federal Ministry of Communications.

 

 

 

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THE NATION

GITEX 2019: Pantami congratulates Bashir, Nigerian overall winner, laud NITDA

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The Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS and leader of the Nigerian delegation to the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) 2019, has congratulated the winner of the startup innovation competition, Abdulkarim Bashir. The young Nigerian defeated 750 other contestants from 73 countries at the biggest technology and innovation show in the Middle East, Africa and Asia with his Artificial Intelligence security solution Chiniki Guard, aimed at detecting and alerting business owners of security breaches in their shops.

In a press statement on Wednesday, spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications, Uwa Suleiman (Mrs) said the Minister also commended the efforts of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for its relentless support, encouragement and motivation by providing sponsorship for the country’s young innovators to the event. An ecstatic Pantami further praised the immense contributions of the Office for ICT Innovation and Entreprenuership (OIIE), a subsidiary arm of NITDA, towards the development of indigenous technology innovation in Nigeria.

“NITDA as regulator of the IT Sector has continued to empower, promote and invest in young talent in the industry through the Office for ICT Innovation and Entreprenuership (OIIE) in a bid to drive the President’s vision for technological advancement in Nigeria. This is a national success worthy of celebration as our efforts have begun yielding the desired results. The success is a clear testimony of the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in promoting our youths and other Nigerians as prioritised by the Executive Orders 003 and 005.” Dr Pantami further stated that “We will continue to support and encourage Local Content Development and Promotion in our determination to transform our economy from a resource – based to a knowledge – based society”

The Minister has directed NITDA and OIIE to continue to monitor and support the winner and other tech startups and ensure the deployment of their solutions in Nigeria.

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