Nigeria: We Were Not Given Fair Hearing, Oando Insists

Nigerian oil company, Oando.

Again, the embattled management of Oando Plc has accused the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), of not granting it fair hearing before dissolving its board of directors, and appointing an interim management to oversee its operations.

In its complaints to SEC, Oando made the argument while responding yesterday, to a SEC statement that "Oando PLC was given sufficient opportunity of being heard and accorded several opportunities to rebut the issues revealed by investigations." dated, Sunday, June 9. It insisted that the company was not accorded a fair hearing but rather cooperated with the process by responding to questions posed by the auditors in the course of their fieldwork for findings in a report that it has still not seen.

Oando insisted that a hearing can only be said to be fair when all the parties to a dispute are given an opportunity to present their respective cases, and each side is entitled to know the details of the case/findings being made against it, and is given an opportunity to reply thereto.

Oando explained that prior to the commencement of the forensic audit; it was not granted the same opportunity to meet with the SEC as was accorded the petitioners, despite repeated written requests to that effect.

It said the first of these requests was on Thursday, August 24, 2017, from the Chairman, HRM Oba Michael Adedotun Gbadebo, who wrote to the SEC Director General as follows: "We would like to request for a meeting with you, in your capacity as Director General of the SEC and regulator on matters involving the securities of our Company, to formally table our concerns to you and clarify any further questions that you may have in respect to the issues that we have raised in this and previous letters to the SEC."

Oando noted that during the 18 month long forensic audit exercise, it was never given an opportunity to present its case based on the concerns or findings of the forensic auditor to the SEC.

"In the kick off meeting with Deloitte on the 29th of March, 2018, they assured the company that we would be allowed to read their report on the forensic audit, and give further clarification or comments on matters raised in their report. Minutes from the meeting, which was shared with parties in attendance state.

"Deloitte concluded by repeating that the audit will be done fairly and from a factual perspective. There will be 'no surprises'. Oando will be allowed to read their report on the Forensic Audit and give further clarifications or comments on matters raised in the report.

"In the course of Deloitte's forensic audit exercise the Company had a second meeting with Deloitte on the 1st of November, 2018, and this was at the Company's insistence. At the said meeting Deloitte promised that on the conclusion of its audit it would hold a close out meeting with the Company, however this meeting never took place.

Furthermore, Oando added:"With the exception of the aforementioned meetings, all other engagements with both the SEC and Deloitte were via letters and emails. On Monday, February 11, 2019, at Oando's request the Company's management team met with the SEC for the purpose of getting approval for certain proposed transactions as part of our corporate strategy pending the release of the Forensic Audit."

Therefore, Oando accused the SEC of circumventing its rules and procedures by failing to invite the firm to appear before the APC and hear its position, noting that the commission rather approached the media to publish the purported findings and punitive directives against the company.

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