The House of Representatives has said that it will today take appropriate action over the recall of the suspended director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh, when it deliberates on the report its ad-hoc committee on capital market and other financial institutions today.
Reacting to LEADERSHIP's enquiry on whether Jonathan's reinstatement of Oteh would affect the recommendation of its committee, the spokesman of the House, Hon Zakari Mohammed, said, "As far as we are concerned, we are unaware of anything regarding the report.
It is not known to us till we consider it tomorrow (today). All issues raised will be addressed during the consideration when we take a position on the recommendations of the report."
But the federal government had, in a move that tended to pre-empt the action of the House on Oteh, stated yesterday that it had recalled the suspended DG.
The ad-hoc committee had, in its report submitted to the House on Tuesday, recommended the termination and prosecution of Oteh and the top management of SEC.
The federal government's circular signed by the secretary to the government of the federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, with reference number SGF.2/S.9/C.13/454 and dated 17/July, 2012, noted that Oteh's recall came on the heels of the outcome of the findings of the external auditors employed to audit the commission's finances.
Following Oteh's suspension, the commission's board had engaged the services of Price Water Coopers Limited, a famous audit firm, to examine the records of the commission's transaction covering the SEC "Project 50" which Oteh had supervised.
Audit report cleared her - Abati
Special adviser to the President on media, Dr. Reuben Abati told State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa that an audit report had cleared the SEC DG of any wrongdoing.
Also a copy of the circular signed by the SGF gave Oteh a clean bill of health and absolved her of all accusations of fraud and criminal breaches, adding, however, that "some administrative lapses were reported, particularly in cases where administrative procedures were not thoroughly observed".
The circular reads in part: "Please refer to the decision of the Board of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to send you on compulsory leave in order to enable SEC's external auditors, the Price Water Coopers Limited (PWC), to examine the records of the Commission's transactions covering SEC Project 50 which you supervised.
"I am to note that Government has studied the report submitted by the external auditors and you are neither indicted for fraud nor criminal breach in any form. However, some administrative lapses were reported, particularly in cases where administrative procedures were not thoroughly observed.
"The purpose of this letter is to recall you from your leave and to caution that you must henceforth endeavour to diligently observe all extant rules and administrative procedures in the conduct of all official transactions."
Stock market calm
However, the stock market remained stable yesterday despite the news of the recall of the director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arunma Oteh, by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Trading activities on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange continued in a positive trajectory as the key benchmark indices maintained northwards to close in the green, taking supports majorly from large capitalised stocks.
At the close of trading session, the NSE All-Share Index inched up by 1.02 per cent or 238.03 basis points to close at 23,277.30 as against 23, 039.27 recorded the previous session.
Consequently, market capitalisation appreciated by N76 billion or 1.02 per cent to close at N7.430 trillion as against N7.354 trillion recorded in the previous day as market sentiments remained positive.
The banking sub-sector of the financial services sector led the market transaction volume with 185.2 million units valued at N1.3 billion exchanged in 2,433 deals.
The volume recorded in the sector was driven by transaction in the shares of Sterling Bank, GTB and Fidelity Bank.
Diversified industries of the conglomerates sub-sector also of the financial sector, activated by the shares of Transcorp, followed with a turnover of 25 million shares valued at N50.07 million in 227 deals.
On the whole, investors staked a turnover of 259.5 million shares worth N2.2 billion in 4,182 transactions.
SEC workers protest
But SEC staff members are protesting against the recall just as they defied downpour and blocked the entire head office building in Abuja, following information about the DG's recall.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the staff members also resisted attempts by security agents deployed to the scene to calm them and make them return to their offices
The staff members who chanted anti-Oteh songs and displayed placards with various inscriptions, wondered why the letter of her recall was signed by the SGF and not the coordinating minister for the economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The angry workers warned the presidency against her reinstatement. They explained that they were tired of the one-man show which was characteristic of Oteh's administration. They accused her of high-handedness and warned that they would make her uncomfortable if she was foisted on them.
Though, as at the time of the protest, Oteh had not arrived, the workers said they had it on good authority that she was to resume immediately. They said they would stay outside and lay ambush for her, warning that she should be prepared to face the consequences if she stubbornly appeared at the office.
The House of Reps ad-hoc panel's report, which is yet to be considered by the House, exonerated former DG of the NSE, Mrs Ndidi Okereke-Onyiuke, from allegations of financial impropriety, describing it as subjudice and requested that, to deepen the equity market, PENCOM should reverse the policy that restricts PFAs from investing a maximum of 25 per cent of their portfolios in equities to a minimum of 25 per cent.
Stakeholders seek release of report
In a swift reaction to the recall of Oteh, stakeholders of the Nigerian capital market are advocating the public release of the report that absolved her of the allegations.
Speaking with our correspondent, the national coordinator of the Independent Shareholders Association (ISAN) Mr Sunny Nwosu, and the managing director of Trust Yields Securities Limited and former president of the Association of Stockbroking Houses, Alhaji Rasheed Yusuff, said it was imperative for the Federal government to make public the report of the investigation.
In his reaction, the president of the Progressive Shareholders Association, Mr. Boniface Okezie, noted that her return would do more damage to the stock market."
Lawyers express divergent views
Meanwhile, prominent lawyers Chief O.C.J. Okocha (SAN), Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) and Mr Festus Keyamo have expressed divergent opinions on President Jonathan's recall of the suspended DG of SEC.
Malami said: "President Jonathan's administration has been proving insensitive to the demands of Nigerians for the federal government to step up the fight against corruption which is now set to consume the nation. But this issue at hand is more serious than merely weighing it on the scale of good governance on the side President Jonathan.
This has to do with whether the offence is an impeachable one or not. It is a serious and an impeachable offence for Jonathan to overlook an oversight duty of the House of Reps. He cannot recall the same person the reps had asked him to prosecute.
But Okocha said "the House of Reps is not a court of law which is the only institution charged with the responsibility to determine one's culpability in a criminal conduct and convict accordingly.
"Sometimes our lawmakers or representatives in the National Assembly are out of tune with reality. The president must have acted based on the advice of the attorney-general of the federation who is a seasoned lawyer before asking Oteh to return to office".
Keyamo agreed: "The House of Reps report is neither here nor there. The reps are not in the position to dictate to the president on who to appoint or not to appoint. Reps do not have such power, but this does not mean we must applaud President Jonathan's attempt to celebrate acts of corruption."