1 December 2017

Nigeria: Stock Market Rallies Despite Suspension of SEC Director General

The equity market continued with its gaining streak as the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index (ASI) appreciated by 0.62 per cent to close higher at 37,944.60. The rally came despite the suspension of the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo on Wednesday by the federal government.

The market has maintained an upward trend for the three days. Yesterday, a total of 31 stocks appreciated, while 18 depreciated. It envisaged that investors will react negatively to the suspension of SEC DG. But some market operators said the suspension was expected given the enormity of the allegations.

"We do not see the suspension as a surprise because the allegations, though yet to be proven, are weighty. However, the commission has not been grounded and normal investing activities continue to take place," a stockbroker said.

Gwarzo was suspended on Wednesday to allow for an unhindered investigation into several allegations of financial impropriety levelled against him.

Among others, Gwazo was alleged to have requested and received the sum of N104 million as severance package when he became DG in 2015.

The money was reportedly for his previous position as executive commissioner, despite opposition from the former acting head of the commission's legal department, Mr. Chukwuogor Frana.

A petition, which has been sent to the House of Representatives over the alleged fraudulent activities, also accused him of violating the rules guiding the SEC by awarding contracts to his companies and those of his family and friends.

He was alleged to have awarded contracts to a company, Medusa Investment Company, in which he is a director, and other companies to which he is related, thus resulting in a conflict of interest.

Announcing his suspension, the the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun said she has set up an administrative panel of inquiry (API) to investigate and determine the culpability of the director-general.

"She has directed the suspended SEC director-general to immediately hand over to the most senior officer at the commission, pending the conclusion of the investigation by the API.

"Also suspended were two management staff of the commission - Mr. Abdulsalam Naif Habu, Head of Media Division and Mrs. Anastasia Omozele Braimoh, Head of Legal Department - who are alleged to have been engaged in financial impropriety in the commission," a statement issued yesterday by the finance ministry said.

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