24 December 2012

Nigeria: 2013 - Reps Fault TUC Over SEC Budget Freeze

The House of Representatives has said that contrary to reports of zero budget allocation to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) for 2013, provisions were made in next year's national budget but noted that the funds cannot be accessed under the Commission's incumbent Director-General, Arunma Oteh.

House spokesman, Zakari Mohammed, who spoke to LEADERSHIP on phone, was reacting to a statement credited to Trade Union Congress (TUC) in which it kicked against the reported zero 2013 budget allocation for SEC.

"TUC should look at the budget, provision is made but she (Oteh) cannot touch it" Mohammed said.

TUC in a statement signed by its President General, Comrade Peter Esele and Acting Secretary General, Comrade Musa Lawal, had called on the National Assembly to follow due process by directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate and prosecute the SEC Director General, "instead of starving workers in the Commission over ego feud matters".

According to the TUC, the federal lawmakers' actions will cause more hardship on the workers.

The statement read in part, "We are against the tough stance taken by the House on SEC in which it approved zero allocation for the commission because such action by the lawmakers will inflict more hardship on the workers in the commission as a result of the feud".

"The organised labour will have no choice than to defend its workers should their salaries from January 2013 be delayed over the feud", it emphasised.

"We call on the House to follow due process by directing the EFCC and any other government anti-graft agency to investigate and prosecute the SEC Director General, instead of starving workers of the Commission over ego feud matters that has nothing to do with their welfare and the nation's economy.

"We, therefore, urge the House to take appropriate action by calling on the nation's anti-graft agency to prosecute Oteh, rather than infringing on the rights of the workers".

In passing the N4,987 trillion 2013 national budget, the House of Representatives, Thursday, ordered the withholding of funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and insisted that the SEC Director-General, Arunma Oteh be removed.

Federal lawmakers reiterated their position that it would have no dealings with SEC under Oteh.

In a briefing with newsmen after passing the 2013 budget, House spokesman, Zakari Mohammed said the House will not touch SEC budget until and unless all its resolutions on SEC are implemented in its entirety by the executive.

"If we (House) resolve and we have done our findings and say this is the situation. Of course, we don't have the authority to say let her go, but we will always meet. It is like a child who has offended his parents; they will meet at the dinner table. In SEC's case, we have met at the dinner table and we want to see what monies will be used to run SEC in the year coming." Mohammed.

Recall that a House sanctioned inquest into the near collapse of the country's capital market suffered ill-fate when a N44 million bribery allegation led to the disbandment of the Herman Hembe-led panel.

The SEC Director General who made that allegation also stated that SEC provided monies for Hembe and his deputy to embark on a foreign trip to the Dominican Republican, a journey that was not made and monies not returned.

A second attempt by the Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi-led panel concluded the probe and subsequently indicted Oteh recommending her sack, a resolution the Goodluck Jonathan administration is yet to comply with.

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