Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh Monday said that the commission will continue to introduce strict regulatory controls to guarantee safety of investments in the capital market.
Speaking in Abuja at the SEC Nigeria Eminent Speakers’ Series themed: “Personal Finance: Securing Your Financial Future”, she also said integrity was fundamental to capital market viability.
The SEC boss also emphasised the need for broader investor education and diversification of investments as part of safety measures.
She said in the period leading to the capital market crisis, people were only gambling and not investing.
She added: "We didn’t ask enough questions in Nigeria and I think the lessons we’ve learnt is that we should ask questions."
Oteh also disclosed that arrangements were being finalised to set up a national investor protection fund as well as to revamp the stock market investor protection fund which had since been moribund.
The SEC DG added that the commission expects the investment and securities tribunal to conclude its hearing on the 260 individuals and entities it dragged to the court for various market infringements.
She said funds realised from their trials could be used to make restitution to investors who had been affected by the crisis.
She added that the commission was making efforts to revamp its investor outreach programme to familiarise people with the benefits and risks of investment.
Continuing, Oteh said: "I think first and foremost, when you want to do something you have done before, you learn lessons from the past. The first thing I would say is that listen to your regulator a little bit more. But that is not to say that we as regulator couldn’t have done more.
"Integrity is the foundation of anything but more so, integrity is the foundation of the capital market because when you look at even the banking sector, I think trust and integrity is even more important.
"There was no understanding on why you invest in capital market. Some people acted as though they were in a casino. People were gambling not investing."
According to her, "It is important that you benefit from the knowledge of financial experts but it is not sufficient. If you don’t understand anything, please, don’t get involved in it even if financial experts market it to you...your last line of defense is the knowledge that you have.
"We at SEC have been very clear about the importance of integrity to building a world class capital market and we have not just talked about it, we have taken action.
"In spite of the attacks on us as an institution or to me as a person, I think we’ve been very clear about the importance of integrity. That is why we took 260 individuals and entities to the investment and securities tribunal and we are alleging that there were fraudulent practices and that investors should be restituted.
"We are hoping that the tribunal will conclude on those cases and that the funds can be used to restitute investors.
"The ISA requires us to set up a national investor protection fund. We have gotten the approval from above to do that...to complement what the exchange has...and to revamp the stock market investor protection fund which has been moribund."