Shareholders of Oando Plc have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun for what they described as her "unwholesome interference" in the nation's capital market.
The shareholders also accused the minister of "unnecessarily meddling" with the functions of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The national president of Trusted Shareholders Association of Nigeria (TSAN), Alhaji Mukhtar Ismail Mukhtar, the National Coordinator, Proactive Shareholders Association (PROSAN), Mr. Taiwo Oderinde; and the Coordinator, Oando Shareholders Solidarity Group (OSSG), in a joint statement in Lagos on Sunday said the minister in her desperate attempt to shield Oando from probe, has inevitably caused untold harm both to the independence of SEC and the Nigerian capital market.
"We wish to bring the attention of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and all Nigerians to the unwholesome actions of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun with regards to the probe of Oando Plc.
"You may recall that since early last year, Oando has been enmeshed in series of crises bordering on abuse of corporate governance and alleged gross financial mismanagement.
"The internal auditors of Oando Plc, Messrs Ernst & Young, in the company's financial report last year expressed doubts over its ability to continue as a going concern because its liabilities exceeded its assets.
"As concerned shareholders, we sent petitions to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and to the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market. The committee mandated SEC to investigate these allegations, culminating in the setting up of a committee by SEC to carry out a preliminary investigation of the company's affairs.
"SEC's preliminarily investigation, as disclosed by the commission in a letter dated October 17, 2017 signed by its head of Legal unit, Braimoh Anastasia, unearthed several malpractices in the company. These include insider trading, decoration of dividends from unrealised profits, release of false financial statements to the public and the disposal of assets without the knowledge of the regulatory body in contravention of the Investment and Securities Act (ISA) 2007, among several other infractions.
"These weighty findings compelled the suspension of Oando shares on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) to pave way for a more thorough investigation via a forensic audit ordered by SEC," National Coordinator, Proactive Shareholders Association (PROSAN), Mr. Taiwo Oderinde, said.
Oderinde also explained that unfortunately, the forensic audit has been stalled due to the "unwholesome interference by Mrs Kemi Adeosun to the detriment of Oando shareholders and the entire Nigerian capital market".
He accused Adeosun of suspending Munir Gwarzo and Dr Abdul Subair as SEC director-general and acting director-general respectively because they resisted her plan to shield the management of Oando from probe.
"It must concern Mr. President, Mr. Vice President and all Nigerians that Mrs. Adeosun has now removed two SEC DGs from their positions all in a desperate attempt to shield Wale Tinubu and the present management of Oando from probe.
"These men have been sacked from their positions because they refused to stop the probe of Oando. Zubair was sacked because he initially resisted Adeosun's attempt to forcefully remove the suspension placed on the shares of Oando to preserve investors' funds. Unfortunately, she had her way and the lifting of the suspension is part of a grand plan to sweep the weighty allegations against Oando under the carpet.
"This is clearly a negation of the anticorruption stance of the present administration and a systematic destruction of the Nigerian capital market.
"The show of shame exhibited last week where the Nigerian Stock Exchange was made to implement three different directives with regards to the suspension of Oando shares within 24 hours should worry the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians. It sent very bad and negative signals to investors all over the world. The attendant negative impact of Adeosun's meddlesomeness to protect some entrenched interests will haunt the market for a long time to come.
"Consequently, we believe the sack of the Minister by President Muhammadu Buhari is the only way to show that the Federal Government remains committed to the fight against corruption in all sectors of the economy," National President of Trusted Shareholders Association of Nigeria (TSAN), Alhaji Mukhtar Ismail Mukhtar, said.
However, all attempt to get a response from the minister proved abortive as text messages and e-mail sent to her special assistant on media, Mr Oluyinka Akintunde, were not responded to as at the time of filling this report.