– The Sun News

We won’t underwrite e-dividend cost after December 31 –SEC

…As DG parries question on N104m payment

By Chinenye Anuforo and Chinwendu Obienyi

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said the December 31, 2017 deadline for the ongoing e-dividend exercise remains sacrosant despite  pleas by stakeholders to extend it. The commission said by December 31, 2017, its underwriting cost of the e-dividend would end.

Speaking to the media during the post Capital Market Committee (CMC) meeting press briefing in Lagos yesterday, Director General of SEC, Mounir Gwarzo, stated that in the last four months, the level of registration has dropped.

He said, “we realised that there is a slow pace in terms of the implementation of the e-dividend as in the last three-four months, there has not been appreciable increase in terms of number of people registering. By December 31, 2017, any Nigerian that does not register for e-dividend will now have to pay N150 for registration.

“We have been pursuing this initiative since last year and SEC has been underwriting the cost. The moment you start extending, people will think they have 100 years to do it. I don’t think we should keep on extending it, we want to keep our word on that December 31. Whoever that does not register should be able to pay the amount stipulated,” he said.

According to him, “we expect that in the next two-three months, we will see a significant improvement in enrolment. To be able to leverage the support from the technical committee, SEC has also been in the vanguard of enlightening the public about the e-dividend and this is to ensure that Nigerians benefit from the free registration exercise.”

Also speaking, Head, Vertical Markets, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Samuel Oluyemi, revealed that 37,153 registrations were recorded from the exercise last month, adding that there was need for more registrations to ensure the continued growth of the capital market.

“In August, what we were able to get was 50,819 people who registered. In September, we got 59,204 registrations and in October 2017, we got 37,153 registrations. This shows that there was a dip in the month of October.

The SEC DG thereafter said the Commission was still in dialogue with telecommunication giant, MTN, adding that it has already reviewed the company’s structure.

“We are still discussing with them and they gave us a template of the structure they want to have in the market and we reviewed the structure and made some suggestion on it…” he revealed.

Meanwhile, the embattled Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Mounir Gwarzo, yesterday, evaded questions on alleged fraudulent activities rocking the Commission.

Gwarzo at the post Capital Market Committee (CMC) press briefing held in Lagos told newsmen that he will not comment on the alleged fraudulent activities against him because of its sensitive nature, adding that once everything is settled, he will be ready to discuss it.

Hear him, “As a public officer, it will be inappropriate to make any comment given that we have already made our submission to our principals as we have provided the right documents on the issue and given the sensitive nature of the issue, once everything has settled down, I will be ready to discuss about it.”

Recall that, it was reported that Gwarzo allegedly got a severance package of N104 million from the Commission shortly after he assumed office in 2015.

However, the spokesman of the Commission, Naif Habu Abdulssalam, said ‘the Commission follows laid down rules and regulations in all its activities’.

Gwarzo was SEC Executive Commissioner when former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him to lead the Commission on May 22, 2015.

On assuming office as DG, he allegedly paid himself the hefty package as entitlement for being an Executive Commissioner for two and a half years.

In a petition to the House of Representatives seen by an online media, Gwarzo was said to have demanded a severance package entitled to a commissioner immediately he assumed office.

Despite opposition mounted by the acting head of SEC’s Legal Department, Frana Chuwuogo, Gwarzo allegedly received over N104 million as benefits for his former position.

Beside the above hefty allegation, the petition said the SEC DG had been awarding contracts to his family members and friends, in violation of the rules guiding the Commission.

It said Gwarzo, his family members and certain directors of the Commission were shareholders and directors in companies “used to carry out the alleged illegal transactions”.

Details of the “illegality” were stated, with at least four different accounts said to be traced to him.

“Mr. Gwarzo and two of his relatives are Directors of Outbound Investment Ltd. (the Company). Since Mr. Gwarzo assumed office as DG of the Commission, the Company has been the sole supplier of diesel to the Commission,” the petition read.

“The Company has also supplied air conditioners to the Lagos Zonal office of the Commission, as well as supplied fridges to the Commission.

“Payments made by the Commission to the Company for contracts executed can be verified from the Company’s bank account held with United Bank for Africa Plc, with account number 1016723428.

“In addition, the Company has executed more contracts for the Commission which are not listed in Appendix B1, however these contracts can be verified from the Commission’s accounting records.

“Mr. Gwarzo even as the DG of the Commission is a Director of Medusa Investments Limited (the Company). The only other Director of the Company is Khadija Mustapher, who is also the wife of the DG of the Commission.

“The Company has actively been used by Mr. Gwarzo, as a shell to carry out alleged illegal transactions as is verifiable from the frequent transactions carried out through the Company’s bank account held with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, with Account Number 0023953920. Mr. Gwarzo is a signatory to the said Company account.

“Mr. Haris Haliru Gwarzo, the younger brother of the DG is said to be the Sole proprietor of Northwind Environmental Services (the Company). The Company has been engaged by the Commission to clean the Commission’s Kano Zonal Office, since the inception of Mr. Gwarzo’s tenure as the DG of SEC.

“Payments made by the Commission to the Company for contracts executed, can be verified from the Company’s bank account with Diamond Bank Plc, with Account Number 0095179297.”

Five other companies allegedly used for personal gains were listed by the petitioner.

Meanwhile, the SEC spokesman, Abdulssalam Naif, said Gwarzo had been in the know of the allegations ‘contained in that article since January 2017, following the receipt of a petition’. He added that “as a tradition, the Commission follows laid down rules and regulations in all its activities. And in this particular case, we ensured that no relevant policy was breached.”

He promised that the SEC would issue a more comprehensive response to the petition to prove its DG’s innocence.




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