21 June 2012

Nigeria: Project 50 - Lawyer Decries Violation of Investments and Securities Act

A legal practitioner and investor, Mr. Fred Agbaje, has decried the flagrant violation of laws guiding operations in the capital market, calling on the Federal Government to check the trend so as to restore investor confidence and entrench professionalism in the market.

In a document titled: "Ms. Arunmah Oteh and Project 50: Entrenching Integrity and Professionalism in our Capital Market," Agbaje said the government should thoroughly investigate the alleged violation of the Investments and Securities Act (ISA) of 2007 by Oteh.

The suspended DG of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is being investigated over application of the funds and resources that related to Project 50, a SEC programme meant to mark 50 years of capital market regulation in Nigeria.

"During the House of Representatives probe on the capital market, Oteh told the committee that there were donors for the Project SEC 50. However, she later reversed herself when she appeared before the committee the third day and denied that they were donors but partners; and even refused to mention the names of the so-called partners. All these were done on oath. If public officers can lie to oath, even when the event is being televised live, it calls to serious question the calibre of men and women heading our public agencies," he said.

According to Agbaje, the Committee established that the donations meant for the Project 50, where lodged into a secret private accounts outside SEC accounts.

"It is curious to note and it has been alleged that the donors or partners to the Project 50 are all entities regulated by SEC. If this allegation is true, then the integrity of the entire market capital market has been terribly compromised by Oteh. This is bad for the market," he said.

He added if it true, "I think Oteh should be chatting with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission and Independent Corruption Practices Commission (ICPC) by now because her action is a clear breach of the Civil Service and ISA which stipulates that all monies, fees, penalties, gifts, donations among others due to SEC must be paid into the bank account of the Commission."

According to Agbaje if the federal government wants the stock market to recover quickly, it must look for a qualified professional as DG of SEC by advertising the position and encourage the best and the brightest to apply for the job in line with President Goodluck Jonathan's promise that such sensitive jobs would no longer be politicised, but would be given to the best and the brightest, instead of filling such important positions with political patronage.

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