- ICPC to Grill Suspended SEC DG on Monday
The suspended Director-General of the Securities Exchange Commission, Mr. Mounir Gwarzo, will on Monday appear before the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission as part of investigations into corruption allegations against him.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had on Wednesday suspended Gwarzo and two other officials of the commission for alleged involvement in corrupt practices.
Adeosun, who also set up an administrative panel of inquiry to probe the allegations, directed Gwarzo to hand over the affairs of the commission to the most senior director while he proceeded on suspension.
Following the suspension of Gwarzo, the ICPC, in a letter dated November 30, 2017, with reference number ICPC/INV/GBP/SG.2/852, invited the embattled DG to appear before it on Monday.
The letter, signed by the Head of Department, Investigations, ICPC, Adedayo Kayode, was addressed to the acting DG of SEC asking him to inform Gwarzo to appear on Monday.
The ICPC letter read in part, “The commission (ICPC) is investigating a case that borders on alleged violation of the provision of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
“In view of the above and pursuant to Section 28 of the said Act, you are requested to inform Mr. Mounir Gwarzo to appear before the undersigned for the purpose of interview on Monday, 4th of December, 2017 at the commission’s headquarters, Abuja by 2pm prompt.”
Our correspondents also learnt that the DG on Thursday wrote members of staff of the commission to inform them of his suspension by the Finance minister.
The memo, a copy of which was made available to one of our correspondents, read, “Dear staff, this is to inform you that I have received a letter of suspension from the Minister of Finance.
“According to the letter dated, 29th of November, 2017, the suspension is to allow for a thorough investigation of the allegations levied against me.
“In the meantime, the management of the commission shall be under the leadership of Dr. Abdul Zubair in his capacity as the most senior officer of the Commission.
“The transfer of the mantle of leadership to Dr. Zubair is in compliance with the directive of the Minister of Finance.
“I urge every staff to give Dr. Zubair all the necessary support to ensure that the commission’s efficiency level is not in any way undermined.”
The suspended DG was accused of collecting N104,851,154.94 severance package while still in service.
He was also accused of being a director of Medusa Investment Limited in violation of Public Service Rules 030424 as well as awarding contracts to the same company and others to which he was related, thus resulting in a conflict of interest.
Some associates of the suspended DG, however, made available to one of our correspondents a memo written by Gwarzo to the Finance minister on November 28, 2017, in which he inferred that Adeosun had attempted to interfere with the forensic audit of Oando Plc.
According to him, the verbal directive by the minister that SEC should discontinue with the audit and hold a tripartite meeting with legal officers of the commission, Oando and the Federal Ministry of Finance with the purpose of coming up with penalties, which will be issued to top officials of the oil marketing firm in their personal capacities for payment, will put to question the independence and integrity of the commission.
Gwarzo stated in the memo, “It is important to stress that an action such as that proposed above will definitely put to question the independence and integrity of the commission, while also completely eroding the confidence of both local and international investors in the Nigerian capital market.
“Furthermore, as you may be aware, the activities around the investigation of Oando Plc are being closely monitored by the local and global investment community and they eagerly expect the outcome of the exercise. It is therefore not in the best interest of our recovering economy that the forensic audit is not seen to be conducted in an independent and transparent manner as proposed by the commission.”
However, the Special Adviser on Media to the minister, Oluyinka Akintunde, dismissed Gwarzo’s claims in the memo as being an afterthought and diversionary, adding that the suspended DG had conveniently avoided the issues that led to his suspension and that Adeosun had nothing to do with the Oando case.
He said Gwarzo should address the issues of receiving severance package while still in service and conflict of interest raised against him and allow the administrative panel of inquiry set up to investigate the allegations to conclude its work, adding that the same rules and process were followed in the case of a former Director-General of the National Pension Commission, who was first suspended, investigated and subsequently fired.
It was learnt on Thursday that the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market had also commenced a separate probe into the matter.
The committee, led by Mr. Tajudeen Yusuf, is expected to sit next week.
Members of the House recommended tougher punishment for capital market operators who diverted funds from the system.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, for example, suggested a jail term of up to 15 years for such fraudsters.
SEC also recommended the payment of 500 per cent of the amount involved by anybody convicted of defrauding the market.
The recommendations were made at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Capital Market Institutions on a bill to amend the Investment and Securities Act, 2017.
Federal Government Clears $120m Debt to Gas Companies Amid Nigeria’s Power Crisis
Amidst Nigeria’s persistent power crisis, the Federal Government has taken a pivotal step forward by clearing a significant portion of its debt to gas companies.
A sum of $120 million has been paid out of the country’s $1.3 billion indebtedness to gas suppliers, offering a glimmer of hope for improved energy stability across the nation.
The Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, underscored the critical role of gas in power generation and highlighted how the mounting debts had severely hampered gas supply to electricity-generating companies, exacerbating the country’s electricity shortfall.
Nigeria heavily relies on thermal power plants fueled by gas for over 70% of its electricity needs, making the timely settlement of gas debts paramount for enhancing power generation capacity and addressing the nation’s energy deficit.
Addressing delegates at the 7th Nigeria International Energy Summit in Abuja, the Director of the Decade of Gas Secretariat, Ed Ubong, expressed optimism about the government’s progress in offsetting its financial obligations to gas producers.
He emphasized the importance of aligning gas and power sectors to foster sustainable energy solutions.
As Nigeria grapples with the multifaceted challenges plaguing its energy landscape, the government’s commitment to settling outstanding gas debts marks a pivotal stride towards revitalizing the country’s power infrastructure and ensuring reliable electricity access for its citizens.
Nigeria Insurance Corporation Reimburses Depositors of 179 Closed Microfinance and Four Mortgage Banks
The Nigeria Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has announced the successful reimbursement of depositors affected by the closure of 179 microfinance banks and four mortgage banks across the country.
The reassuring news came during the 45th Kaduna International Trade Fair, where NDIC’s Managing Director, Dr. Bello Hassan, explained the corporation’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding depositors’ funds amidst financial uncertainties.
Dr. Hassan, represented by Hauwa Gambo, the NDIC’s Deputy Director of Communication, highlighted the corporation’s proactive measures in protecting the interests of depositors.
The introduction of the Single Customer View framework has expedited the process of reimbursing depositors of liquidated banks, ensuring swift and transparent transactions.
The corporation’s collaboration with the judiciary has yielded positive results, facilitating the speedy prosecution of failed insured banks and resolving long-standing cases of bank liquidations like Fortune and Triumph Banks.
This concerted effort has significantly enhanced the debt recovery rate, enabling NDIC to declare full liquidation dividends to uninsured depositors of over 20 deposit money banks.
Furthermore, NDIC has embraced digital remote payment strategies, streamlining electronic funds transfers to verified depositors’ alternate bank accounts.
The introduction of the ‘Deposit Tracer’ initiative in partnership with mobile operators aims to address apathy among depositors with small balances, providing accessible avenues for claiming funds trapped in closed banks.
The initiatives underscore NDIC’s proactive stance in safeguarding depositors’ interests and ensuring financial stability in Nigeria’s banking sector.
85.51 Million Nigerian Bank Customers Face Withdrawal Freeze Over NIN, BVN Deadline
As the March 1 deadline looms, an estimated 85.51 million Nigerian bank customers are facing the possibility of frozen accounts due to their failure to link their National Identification Numbers (NINs) and/or Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) to their accounts.
Recent findings reveal the potential scale of the impending banking crisis.
Data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) indicates that Nigeria had approximately 146 million active individual bank customers as of December 2022.
However, by January 26, 2024, only 60.49 million BVNs were recorded on the NIBSS portal, leaving a significant portion unlinked.
Meanwhile, about 104 million NINs had been issued by December 2023, highlighting the disparity between NIN issuance and BVN linkage.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had earlier issued directives to banks, mandating them to restrict transactions on accounts lacking linked NINs and BVNs, with effect from March 1, 2024.
Any accounts found non-compliant risk being designated as ‘Post no Debit,’ rendering them unable to process further transactions.
Responding to the impending crisis, the Director-General of the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC), Abisoye Coker-Odusote, emphasized the need for the revalidation of Front-End Partners (FEPs) to ensure the integrity of the identity database.
She underscored the importance of NIN registration and urged collaboration with various stakeholders to expedite the process.
The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida, reiterated the significance of linking NINs to SIM cards to enhance national security.
Telecom subscribers were urged to comply with the NIN-SIM linkage directive to avoid service disruptions.
Meanwhile, financial service providers like Opay have issued reminders of the impending restrictions, urging customers to comply with the linkage requirements.
Amidst concerns, some customers contemplate transferring funds to compliant accounts to avoid potential financial setbacks.
As the deadline approaches, stakeholders are intensifying efforts to mitigate the impact of the impending banking crisis on millions of Nigerians.
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