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Finance minister explains timing of Gwarzo’s suspension

By Chijioke Nelson
09 December 2017   |   4:24 am
The integrity of the nation’s capital market was the major consideration for the timing of the suspension of Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo. Gwarzo, who was queried by the Ministry of Finance on November 3, 2017 responded on November 7, 2017, even as his response was unsatisfactory. There was…

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun. PHOTO: CNBC Africa

The integrity of the nation’s capital market was the major consideration for the timing of the suspension of Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo.

Gwarzo, who was queried by the Ministry of Finance on November 3, 2017 responded on November 7, 2017, even as his response was unsatisfactory.

There was also evidence that documents were being unlawfully removed from SEC, as well as conclusions from consultations with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).  

Besides, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said it should be placed on record that Gwarzo’s suspension was in line with the Public Service Rules (PSRs) that allow for unfettered investigation of allegations of financial impropriety against him.

The controversy also coincided with the rebounding economy and should be managed in an orderly and transparent manner to retain investors’ confidence.

Reacting to what she described as misleading and mischievous reports, Adeosun noted that some of the allegations with documented evidences against Gwarzo included the awards of contracts to companies linked to him and members of his family.

Adeosun, who admitted that her response would not have been necessary but for Gwarzo’s allegation that his suspension was due to “his refusal to stop the forensic audit of Oando Plc,” said she approved the Constitution and Terms of Reference for the Administrative Panel of Inquiry.

She said it was at a meeting with Gwarzo on November 27, when he was asked to clarify some of his responses to the query, which were not consistent with documentary evidence, that Gwarzo realised the likelihood of his suspension and thereafter prepared the memo that circulated in the media.

She added that Gwarzo personally delivered the memo using SEC staff seconded to her office, in clear breach of normal procedures for mail delivery.

“The copy of the memo in the possession of the minister was delivered with a message that any action against Gwarzo would result in same being leaked to the press.

“It was this threat of blackmail that strengthened the resolve of the minister to suspend Gwarzo and allow the Administrative Panel of Inquiry to proceed with its probe,” she said.