Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji
By Charles Ajunwa in Lagos and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, yesterday waded into the face-off between the Director General (DG) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Aruma Oteh, and the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market.
This however came on a day the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) expressed regret at the conduct of the public hearing on the operations of the country’s Stock Market by the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market.
But Orji in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Ugochukwu Emezue, called on both parties to embrace peace as he insisted that their differences can be reconciled.
The governor said having watched with studied silence the development which seemed to have created some verbal exchange between the committee and the Director-General who is an Abian that it was time to intervene.
He argued that if the Director General of SEC had made any offensive statement during the unfolding melodrama, it was as a result of the way the Commitee Chairman handled the issues at stake. “For the Governor, the idea of passing a judgement on the DG, saying that she is incompetent and the serious attack on her proven integrity by the chairman of the committee, is quite uncalled for.”
The governor insisted that only a court of competent jurisdiction has the constitutional power to pass judgement on any individual.
Meanwhile, CPC in a statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said by allowing the proceedings to degenerated into vengeful attacks rather than the core issues of how to restore our capital market to a prosperous state, the committee has exhibited gross incompetence.
“CPC has noted, with unmistakable uneasiness, the avoidable spat between the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Ms. Aruma Oteh and Hon. Herman Herbe, the Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Capital Market at the last sitting of the probe panel on Thursday, 15th March, 2011. That the discourse degenerated to the petulant and mundane dimension was clearly attributable to the immaturity of the House Committee leadership,” he said.
Fashakin said what was in the bigger public interest to the Nigerian people was derailed “when the committee probe concentrated energy on purely administrative matters of SEC which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was more structurally and legally empowered to handle“.
He said close watchers of the capital market would attest to the strident moves in the reformatory agenda being unveiled in the last one year.
According to him, reforms led to the unceremonious exit of the erstwhile Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
“The issue of transparency in the Capital market has received fresh impetus with the suspension of Dangote Plc; a clear message that it cannot be business as usual! Truly, trading at the stock market started on a steady increase since the beginning of March, 2012 and inched to a marginal increase of 0.64 per cent prior to the commencement of the probe. But the odious nature of the probe had reversed this trend with the all-share index plummeting at the Nigerian Stock Exchange,” he said.
Recalling the incident at last week’s Public Hearing, Fashakin, said Oteh made earth-rending allegations of corruption and personal integrity deficit against the House Committee Chairman and the Committee.
She alleged that among these allegations were that the Chairman of the Committee October, Hon. Herman Herbe, had in October 2010 collected a business class ticket (plus estacode) to attend a course in the Dominican Republic, but failed to attend and did not return the money collected.
Also the Director General had alleged that the House Committee demanded N39million from SEC to facilitate its probe efforts, in addition to a personal cash demand of N5 million made by the Chairman.
Fashakin said the allegations made by the Director-General were so grave that it clearly underscored the need to make the elected Public officers accountable to the people.
“These allegations pointedly bring to the fore the noxious corruption associated with the business of the National Assembly. It is no longer a hidden fact that sponsored Bills to the National Assembly by Ministries, Departments and Agencies to enable them operate unobtrusively must be backed up by unbudgeted cash payments to receive the needed support,” he said.