The Petition against SEC by Concerned Staff….


We are aware of a widely circulating e-mail from a group referred to as the “Concerned Staff of SEC” authored by one Kalu Ogba - who failed to establish his/’her’ relationship to the staff cadre at SEC, but nonetheless has attracted or attention; one to which we intend to react to here and provide a commentary on.


Having gone through the above referenced petition, the comments made below have been made not based on receiving all the facts from both sides. This is best left to those to whom it has been addressed. Yet, our comments represent a holistic look at the issues arising or related thereto.


The immediate observation discernible is the need to question the authenticity of the source of the petition. We hold no brief for the SEC or/and the NSE in this matter but the facts as we see it compels us to state so. A cursory review of the comments, language and general quality of the petition is suspect. A career professional officer with an institution of the stature of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) of Nigeria will not, and should not be seen to write with this kind of diction, presentation or language.


The more obvious and secondary observation must be that the issues raised are not entirely new or unexpected of what transpires during a change management phase. It is in the nature of Nigerians and public institutions (including private or SRO Institutions) that such petition writing activities has become a hallmark of our way of doing business in Nigeria, whether privately or publicly.


The joke is that it is alleged that those that are not sharing in the ‘national cake’ or ‘bounty’ are the ones shouting the loudest. This will not be the first time such a petition will arise about the current DG of the SEC, as it has been for those before her. The purpose and intent in sending same to our platform at this time may perhaps be based on a misplaced perception or understanding of what the Proshare service is all about.


Without prejudice, we wish to state that we are not a conduit or platform for proxy wars and agendas. The proshare service is dedicated to the capital market and will steadfastly work to sustain the reliable and credible status it has built over the years. Yet we are quite mindful that petitions remains the only recourse for citizens and stakeholders that have increasingly found it difficult to get those entrusted with protecting individual rights a false expectation.


So how does this particular petition play out?


It is worthwhile to represent that the actions of the SEC in ‘choosing and picking’ which petitions to react to and when, under the recent cloud of petitions sent to the exchange for which no publicly expressed action has been taken; has done little to assuage the investment community about the SEC’s impartiality or selective application of its regulatory powers. Rather, it is easily assumed that this development has encouraged a silly season where petitions written before and after its ‘recent takeover of the NSE’ will become a matter to galvanisereactions and positions that may cloud informed judgement.


This provides the backdrop to why this editorial, rather a commentary is important; and is provided without prejudice to the concerns the platform has about recent actions and reactions in the market place.


There are, and still remains issues bothering on unresolved corporate governance issues – some of which are alluded to in the petition against the SEC, the management of the ‘takeover of the NSE’ tactical plan; and the communications from the commission and allied media platforms that appear to sensationalize matters rather than raise consciousness and engender conviction as to the larger issues relating to the capital market.


This editorial is thus necessary and will be a feature of the proshare platform to kill off such innuendos rather than concentrate the mind on the central issues bothering on practice and process – as against personalities and leadership changes.


Having said that, we must now raise cogent issues arising therefrom this current petition:


  1. There are no concrete allegations against Ms. Oteh other than the notion that the petitioner believes she is incompetent and does not deserve the position she occupies. That is not an issue for staff members of the SEC to deliberate upon; it is the prerogative of the appointing jurisdiction to choose the Head of the SEC and she cannot be removed just because a number of staff does not like her style of leadership or approach to issues. This in itself is ludicrous.
  2. It is said that she has been staying permanently at the Hilton Transcorp, Abuja. This can be investigated o verify and validate the facts related thereto. Is she entitled to an official accommodation and this has not been made available? Is it the practice for newly appointed persons in her circumstance (relocating to Nigeria from an overseas appointment) to spend some approved period of time in the Hotel before arranging her own accommodation and is there a time limit for such arrangement? Besides, is there any proof that she has abused the privilege in any way? If she is unable to fund the rent of a new apartment personally and the SEC have provided her one which she turned down for non-genuine reasons; then we can accept a case of insensitivity to the financial status of the SEC in the management of her responsibility.
  3. She travels a lot? She spends so much on travels? This will have to be backed up with documentary evidence indicating wrong doing. What are the trips meant for? Are they authorized and official? Does it relate to the discharge of her functions which are not known to these members of staff? If yes and fully documented, with necessary supervisory approvals, then; there can be no wrong doing here.
  4. The allegations against the SEC Chairman can however be sustained. Even if no wrong doing can be established, or the impartiality and integrity of the chairman brough to question; the cost of maintaining the Chairman and members of the Board (especially the chairman who is expected to be a part-time position) could and should raise issues of propriety and abuse of fiduciary relationship and status. As a lawyer and Chairman of publicly quoted companies, he should know a lot more about the proprietary of status as as a part-time chairman, and is expected to guard against anything that would suggest that he is working in any capacity other than this. Does he have an office designated as such – Chairman of the Board of the SEC? This will be against the intent of the current ISA Act 2007. bearing in mind that Recommendation 16, as contained in the National Committee on the Capital Market Reforms prescribes for an executive chairman is not yet law, he cannot express his role in such terms or conduct himself (or indeed create a perception of influence to suggest that) in such a way as to allow staff members to suggest as much.
  5. The petitioner claims that the staffs at the SEC go to the office and do nothing. Is it that there are no departments, no schedule of duties? Could it be that there is a discontent within the management that might create tension, apathy to change or pure mischief that has led to such a conclusion? If these are true, then we may encourage the recipients to take a look and publicly clarify this stance. Our take is that this cannot be substantiated and lacks merit purely on the face of it.
  6. It is also alleged that officials of the Ministry of Finance have been compromised. This has to be proven. This was not presented in the petition and we have to assume that this is a kite best left to be flown in the political field.
  7. Finally two things:

o   The onus is on the petitioner to back up every allegation with concrete proof. Merely expressing an opinion on the running of SEC is inadequate. The non-provision of a name, contact details and position within the organisation is enough to raise doubts about the sincerity and veracity of the claims made herein. Who would the respondents be calling to present, defend and provide insight on the petition?

o   The point in (a) above notwithstanding, the petition is worthy of a further investigating by those entrusted with supervising the SEC – if only to fulfill the ‘Who Guards the Guardian Principle’. This must take place bearing in mind that though the petitioner remains anonymous (ostensibly motivated by our lack of protection for ordinary citizens and employees acting as whistle blowers), and bearing in mind the current climate where such a petition was now made public at the height of a serious and sensitive ‘takeover’; the necessary agencies copied in the petition must look at this and put the matter to bed or raise issues for further action. We must however note that this must be done after it has been duly brought to the attention of the persons involved, and their own side of the story admitted, in line with the principle of fair hearing; one in which the SEC has been openly accused of not providing to the NSE DG/CEO it acted against; within the market expectation.


Suffice to day, we can only move forward on the developments without repeating the errors of judgement, decision and actions that occurred.


As regards the petition in question, the petition should be dismissed as the handiwork of disgruntled staff members or persons acting as proxies to the initiators, whoever they may be.


Source: Proshare



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