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Days after the administrative panel of in-quiry recommended his outright dismissal from public service for alleged financial misconducts, the panel’s incontrovertible evidence, which nailed suspended Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Munir Gwarzo, are beginning to emerge.One of the documents, sighted by New Telegraph yesterday in Abuja, was the authorisation of severance payment to the tune of N1.7 billion to 44 workers in 2015, an action said to violate the commission’s 2015 budget provisions.
New Telegraph’s findings revealed that the dis-missed director-general, as reflected in one of the documents had, in 2015, introduced a voluntary exit scheme for staff willing to quit the services of SEC. The scheme, christened ‘2015 Golden Handshake,’ came with a cost implication of N1,703,724,848.32, an amount that was not provided for in 2015 budget prepared by the commission. “In 2015, he singlehandedly, without a budgetary provision, paid N1.7 billion to a set of staff under a golden handshake arrangement. By law, the DG of SEC is required to seek the approval of the Minister of Finance, even if there is a board in place.
They should have sought the approval of the minister, who in turn would present it to the President and the request sent to the National Assembly. But the suspended SEC DG went outside budget provision to effect the payment,” said a source, who backed his claim with documents.
Another source told New Telegraph that the Administrative Panel, headed by Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, the Permanent Secretary of the Finance Ministry that investigated Gwarzo after his temporary suspension, unearthed payments in millions of naira paid to firms linked to him. One of the firms, Outbound Investments Limited, has Gwarzo as Director on its board with 200,000 ordinary shares. Several payments amounting to millions of naira were paid by SEC to the firm’s bank account.
For instance, SEC, on February 21, 2017 paid the sum of N2,241,360 to Outbound Investments for supply of diesel. It had previously, on October 10, 2016 and July 27, 2016 paid the firm N1.9 million and N2.2 million respectively for supplies. Series of payments made to the company by SEC as evidenced in the invoice sighted by this medium are as follow; June 6, 2016, N 2,178,000 for supply of 11,000 litres of diesel; May 17, 2016, N2,178,000 paid for 11,000 litres of diesel; N2,464,400 paid on April 5, 2017 for 8,000 litres of diesel that was discharged on March 29, 2017. Contrary to claim by Gwarzo that he had resigned his membership from the board of Outbound Investment and Medusa Investments Limited, a copy of resolution reached by the board of Medusa Investment, dated August 15, 2016 showed Munir Gwarzo as Managing Director and Khaijah Mustapha, another Director signed copy of board resolution respectively. A copy of Medusa Investments resolution addressed to its bank, directed it to issue a new corporate naira MasterCards on the company’s account to Gwarzo and Khadijat, the firm’s two directors.
The source said: “Gwarzo’s personal interest in the identified companies is a clear contravention of the regulation, which explicitly prohibits public officers from being in situations that bring their personal interest into conflict with their public duties. Also, the use of the companies as suppliers to the commission, said government sources, amounted to earning wealth illegally and contravenes the EFCC Act, as well as the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.” Gwarzo was placed on temporary suspension last November on the orders of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to allow unhindered investigation into allegations of financial misconduct.
An administrative panel, headed by permanent secretary of the ministry, interrogated and submitted its report. One of the recommendations by the panel to the Federal Government was outright dismissal of the embattled director-general from the public service of the Federal Government.
It also recommended that the suspended DG be referred to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) for further investigation over award of contracts to his company. The panel, in the report, which has been submitted to Adeosun, directed Gwarzo to refund the sum of N104,851,154.94, being the severance package he approved and received for himself. Adeosun and Gwarzo appeared on Tuesday before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Capital Market.
The minister defended her decision to suspend Gwarzo, stating that she did not have to wait for the anti-graft agencies to handcuff Gwarzo before suspending him from office over allegations of financial misconduct. She equally disclosed that the report of the administrative panel of inquiry was ready for submission to President Muhammadu Buhari. In his submission before the committee, Gwarzo said his suspension last November coincided with his refusal to stop the forensic audit of Oando Plc., a Nigerian energy firm, after Adeosun had pressurised him to do so.
Gwarzo, in his capacity as the DG of SEC, had ordered the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to place the shares of Oando on technical suspension, following allegations of capital market infractions against the energy company. He said he acted on the petitions by two shareholders of Oando – Alhaji Dahiru Mangal and Ansbury Investment Inc. – who had accused the executive management of Oando of financial mismanagement and had sought for their ouster. Based on SEC’s subsequent investigation into the allegations by the company’s shareholders, Gwarzo, as DG, had listed various infractions committed by Oando and ordered that a forensic audit be undertaken of the company to reaffirm the commission’s findings.