Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja and Goddy Egene in Lagos
The federal government has announced the suspension of the Director-General (DG) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Mounir H. Gwarzo, to allow for an unhindered investigation of several allegations of financial impropriety levelled against him.
Among others, Gwazo was alleged to have requested and received the sum of N104 million as severance package when he became DG in 2015.
The money was reportedly for his previous position as executive commissioner, despite opposition from the former acting head of the commissionâ€™s legal department, Mr. Chukwuogor Frana.
A petition, which has been sent to the House of Representatives over the alleged fraudulent activities, also accused him of violating the rules guiding the SEC by awarding contracts to his companies and those of his family and friends.
He was alleged to have awarded contracts to a company, Medusa Investment Company, in which he is a director, and other companies to which he is related, thus resulting in a conflict of interest.
Announcing his suspension wednesday, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun said she has set up an administrative panel of inquiry (API) to investigate and determine the culpability of the director-general.
â€œShe has directed the suspended SEC director-general to immediately hand over to the most senior officer at the commission, pending the conclusion of the investigation by the API.
â€œAlso suspended are two management staff of the commission â€“ Mr. Abdulsalam Naif Habu, Head of Media Division and Mrs. Anastasia Omozele Braimoh, Head of Legal Department â€“ who are alleged to have been engaged in financial impropriety in the commission,â€ a statement issued yesterday by the finance ministry said.
According to a statement, Gwarzoâ€™s suspension was in line with the Public Service Rules (PSRs) 03405 and 03406.
Other than the administrative enquiry ordered by Adeosun, Gwarzo is also being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) wednesday.
EFCC wants to unravel the owners of the nine companies that were awarded contracts by the SEC under Gwarzo.
They include Outbound Investment Limited, Medusa Investments Limited, Northwind Environmental Services, Micro-Technologies Limited, Tida International Limited, Outlook Communications, Acromac Nigeria Limited, Balfort International Investment Limited and Interactiven Worldwide Nigeria Limited.
According to the EFCC, Gwarzo, his wife and other cronies allegedly used these companies to carry out illegal transactions in SEC.