President Goodluck Jonathan
By Ike Abonyi and Onwuka Nzeshi
President Goodluck Jonathan may give in to pressure from the National Assembly, which has pushed for the sack of the Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh, and the Chairman of the Pension Task Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, THISDAY has learnt.
It was gathered that the president is considering removing the duo along with the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa, if he fails to convince the leadership of the National Assembly to grant them a reprieve, as part of his efforts to thaw the frosty relationship between the two arms of government.
The executive, it was gathered, had made overtures to the leadership of the National Assembly, explaining why some of its resolutions had not been implemented to the letter.
At a meeting last Tuesday between Jonathan and the leadership of the legislature, the president had yielded to their demand to reconsider the currency restructuring exercise and introduction of N5,000 note planned by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The lawmakers, however, were said to have accused the president of dithering on the implementation of notable resolutions, including those calling for the sack of Oteh, Maina and Onagoruwa.
Of the trio, it was gathered that the National Assembly remains uncompromising on Oteh’s removal.
The demand for Oteh's sack formed an integral part of the recommendation of the House of Representative’s ad hoc committee, which investigated the near collapse of the capital market. Last March, Oteh was involved in an ill-tempered spat with the standing committee of the House on Capital Market and Institutions, which was investigating the remote and immediate causes of the collapse of the capital market between 2008 and 2012.
The House, which had recommended her removal before it went on recess in July, renewed its clamour for her sack on Tuesday after it resumed from recess, stressing that it was not prepared to back down on its earlier resolution on the matter.
The House had passed a resolution on July 19 requesting Jonathan to remove Oteh from office for allegedly being unqualified by law to occupy the position, for being incompetent, and her inability to manage the organisation effectively.
In renewing its resolution last week, it warned that it should henceforth cease to accord any recognition to Oteh or deal with her as the SEC director general.
It also directed its Committee on Legislative Compliance to monitor developments on the issue and to brief the House on the level of compliance with the resolution within the next 14 days.
The House expressed dismay that the executive ignored the earlier resolution even when it was duly conveyed by the Clerk of the National Assembly on July 30.
“The House is worried that the president recalled Ms. Arunma Oteh from suspension immediately the report of the ad hoc committee which indicted her was made public in flagrant contempt of the House of Representatives and the feelings of the Nigerian people and investors who lost money in the capital market.
“We are further worried that the staff of Securities and Exchange Commission protested the recall of Ms. Oteh and even the letter by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation recalling her cautioned her against flouting extant rules and administrative procedures in the conduct of all official transactions," said the lawmaker last week.
The Senate, in adopting recommendations of its Joint Committee that investigated the Police Pension Fund, had urged the Federal Government to arrest and prosecute Maina and others for their alleged involvement in the misappropriation of N273.9 billion pension funds.
The task team was also directed to transfer an estimated N27.7 billion of unspent pension funds to the Federation Account through the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
The Senate also ordered Maina and his team to refund another N15 billion, which they allegedly diverted into personal pockets.
It urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to further investigate the transfer of N4.6 billion from the United Bank of Africa Plc to Union Bank Plc and the transfer of another N7.6 billion from Zenith Bank Plc to Union Bank by the pension task team.
The resolution followed the consideration of the report submitted by the Senate Joint Committee on Establishment and Public Service, States and Local Government. The joint committee was led by Senator Aloysius Etuk.
The Senate, which also adopted the report of its ad hoc committee that probed the privatisation programme from 1999 to 2012, demanded Onagoruwa’s sack for her alleged gross incompetence and illegal sale of the Federal Government’s residual shares in Eleme Petrochemicals Company.