…..allegation mischievous, unfounded – Adeosun
……as Investigation Panel recommends Gwarzo’s dismissal from public service
The suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Munir Gwazo, has again alleged that his suspension from office was connected to his uncompromising stance on the Commission’s planned forensic audit of Oando Plc accounts.
The embattled investment expert today made the allegation when he appeared at the public hearing organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Institutions to investigate the circumstances that led to his suspension from office.
Gwarzo insisted that the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, punished him because he maintained his stance that Oando should be probed contrary to the wish of the minister.
He expatiated: “On one occasion, the minister invited me and asked me the powers I had to carry on with the audit. So, I explained to her it was within the powers of my office. She said we should have mentioned it to her but no problem.
“But the scary aspect was that she told me she was told I should have been sacked. After that encounter, we went on with our investigations. On another occasion, the honourable minister invited me again in the company of the permanent secretary and said I should lift the technical suspension placed on Oando.
“Later around 4 p.m., another meeting was conveyed, with the minister, permanent secretary, director of legal services and some staff of SEC. The minister went through all the allegations against SEC and also the recommendations. We discussed extensively with her and sought some clarifications.
“The minister said ‘even though you did not carry us along, we have no choice than to support you’. The case was in court, so we couldn’t do anything then”, Gwarzo added.
On other developments after the case was thrown out of the court, he said that the commission issued a letter to Oando informing the management of the intention of SEC to continue with the audit and that immediately after that he was invited by the minister the following day.
He clarified further: “She said to me, ‘I want this Oando issue to be concluded’ and I replied, ‘no problem’. She then said I should stop the forensic audit of Oando and that I should constitute a committee comprising the head of legal of SEC, that of the ministry and that of Oando.
“She then told me I will not be on that committee, and that they were giving me the directive as my board (members). I said okay, if that’s the case, I want it to be committed in writing. She went on to tell me I had two options, either I resign or I am suspended, and went on to remind me of the allegations against me. I told her I am ready to defend myself against those allegations”, the suspended SEC boss added.
However, in her reaction to Gwarzo’s allegations, Adeosun said that his suspension followed the recommendations of an administrative panel set up to look into the allegations against him.
She said: “As we speak, the forensic audit is still going on. So, it is mischievous to even suggest that, that led to his suspension.”
Meanwhile, the Administrative Panel of Inquiry established to investigate the allegations of financial misconduct leveled against Gwarzo, has recommended his dismissal from the Public Service.
An online report by The Punch indicated that the panel found Gwarzo guilty of violating public service rules and also breaching financial regulations.
According to the news medium, panel in its report found official letters, bank accounts and credit cards that tied Gwarzo as a Director to two private companies while maintaining his position as the Director-General of SEC, which was “a breach of civil service rules”.
The Panel also recommended that Gwarzo should refund N104.85 million, being the severance package he allegedly approved and received upon his appointment as Director-General of SEC.
The report stated: “Mr Mounir Gwarzo should be dismissed from the Public Service of the Federal Government for holding positions of a Director in private companies – Medusa Investment Limited and Outbound Investment Limited – while serving as D-G SEC.
“This is in breach of PSR 030424, PSR 030402 and Section 6 of the Investment and Security Act, 2007.
“He should also be referred to the ICPC for further investigation on the allegation of using his position as Director-General to influence the award of contracts to Outbound Investments Limited in view of the provisions of sections 57 and 58 of the Public Procurement Act.
“He should also be dismissed from the Public Service, having breached paragraph 313 and 316 of the Financial regulations, for engaging in extra-budgetary expenditure without appropriate approval,’’ the report added.
The panel also recommended that the cases of two management officers of the commission, Mrs Anastasia Braimoh of the Legal Department and Mr Abdulsalam Naif, of the Corporate Communications Department should be referred to SEC for appropriate disciplinary action in line with the provisions of the Staff Manual of the Commssion.
The Panel’s recommendations are coming two months after the Minister of Finance suspended Gwarzo from office over allegations of financial misappropriation to the tune of N104.85 million.