Minister Kemi Adeosun asked me to stop Oando audit – Munir Gwarzo

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The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and the suspended Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Munir Gwarzo have disagreed over the legality of the controversial suspension of the latter.

At an investigative hearing organised by the House Committee on Capital Market and Institutions on Tuesday at the National Assembly on the need to intervene in the conflict between the minister and suspended DG, the minister insisted that the suspension of Mr. Gwarzo followed due process.

“Mr. Munir was suspended in accordance with the public service rule. The suspension is in line with the Public Service Rules (PSRs) 03405 and 03406,” the minister said.

She said the Investment and Securities Act empowers the minister to act in absence of the board.

“In absence of the board, the minister has the power to suspend the Director General. We have not gone outside the context of the law in suspending the DG,” she added.

On the allegations linking Mr. Gwarzo’s suspension to the forensic audit being conducted on Oando, she said simply: “it is mischief to link the matter to Oando.”

Meanwhile, the suspended director general, insisted that the minister had no powers to suspend him.

He said that interference by the minister of finance into the affairs of SEC has never happened in the history of the organisation.

He said the commission should not be seen, ”as a public service.”

“I was removed pursuant to non-existing laws in Nigeria,” Mr. Gwarzo said.

He added that the minister earlier told him before his suspension that he should stop the forensic audit on Oando and Oasis Insurance Company which he attributed as the reason for his suspension.

He accused the minister of having special interest in the two companies.

The minister had suspended Mr. Gwarzo, from office over allegations of financial misappropriation.

She further clarified that the suspension was to allow ”unhindered investigation into several allegations of financial impropriety leveled against Mr. Gwarzo.”

Mr. Gwarzo was suspended alongside Abdulsalam Naif-Habu, the Head of Media Division and Anastasia Braimoh, who heads the Legal Department.

Mr. Gwarzo was alleged to have ”paid himself” N104 million severance package when he was appointed DG SEC, from the position of a director in the same commission.

This, the minister said is in total disregard to the standing rule in the civil service which states that severance benefit can only be paid to an employee who has concluded his or her service or has completely disengaged from service.

Prior to these controversies, the House of Representatives resolved to probe all allegations of corruption in the SEC.

The committee on capital markets and institutions are expected to lay their recommendations before the House soon.

Meanwhile, a key shareholder in the embattled oil and gas firm, Oando Plc, recently withdrew his petition to the SEC, following a ‘peace deal’ with the oil firm’s chief executive officer, Wale Tinubu.

The decision put in doubt the possibility of a proposed forensic audit of the company going forward.

Dahiru Mangal, a shareholder of the company in 2017 petitioned the SEC accusing management of the oil firm of gross misconduct.

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