NIGERIA’S apex capital market regulator, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has come under pressure to review the process of its investigation, adjudication and conclusions on the alleged corporate governance abuses at Oando Plc.
SEC had on May 31, 2019 released a statement indicting the management and board of Oando of sundry corporate governance abuses and infractions of the relevant capital market laws. SEC barred the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) and the Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (DGCEO) of Oando from being directors of public companies for a period of five years. SEC also ordered certain members of board of directors of Oando to resign.
SEC also directed the payment of monetary penalties by the company and affected individuals and directors, and refund of improperly disbursed remuneration by the affected board members to the company. SEC directed the convening of an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting on or before July 1, 2019, to appoint new directors.
According to the SEC, following the receipt of two petitions by the Commission in 2017, investigations were conducted into the activities of Oando. Certain infractions of relevant laws were observed. The Commission further engaged Deloitte & Touche to conduct a Forensic Audit of the activities of Oando.
But shareholders and stakeholders have faulted the process adopted by SEC, accusing SEC of bias and lack of fairness.
Chief Olatunde Okelana, a concerned minority shareholder, said he was concerned about the processes that SEC followed.
Speaking at the annual general meeting (AGM) of Okomu Oil Palm Plc attended by a representative of SEC in Abuja, Okelana said that an accused person is always entitled to a fair hearing before judgment is passed.
According to him, in this case, the SEC, cannot play the role of both accuser and judge, neither does it qualify to dictate the tone of an appeal.
He charged the regulatory body to follow the rule of law in exercising its regulatory powers, faulting the last minute suspension of Oando’s AGM by the SEC.
Also, at the June 2019 Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria’s new members’ induction, Chief Executive Officer, Proshare Nigeria Limited, Mr. Olufemi Awoyemi, who was the guest speaker, said the Oando-SEC crisis was further exacerbated by the lack of, absence and the perception that those empowered to exercise such oversights themselves have serious issues of corporate governance to contend with.
“While this debate struggles with traction, it is my considered view that, Directors are better served by immediately availing themselves with best practices; upgrade their knowledge, understanding and application of their roles and responsibilities to render unto themselves and society a risk-based discharge of their functions. Waiting for clarity brings with it unintended consequences,” Awoyemi stated.
However, he wants the IoD to retain a watching brief on regulatory developments especially on the SEC-Oando case with a view to coming out with learning guidelines around the pain points of the case study when the dust finally settles.
The SEC-Oando saga has gained steady momentum since SEC released alleged infractions and sanctions on May 31, 2019. The increasing range of diverse voices that have contributed to the conversation means that this is likely to continue to dominate local and international news. With the general public waiting with bated breath for the outcome of the court case adjoined to the 24th of June.