Compulsory Leave: Arunma Oteh fights back

by Stanley Azuakola

One thing we know for sure is that Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunma Oteh, knows how to fight back when she feels she’s being bullied or oppressed. Former chairman of the House of Representatives committee on the Capital Market, Herman Hembe can testify to that.

So it’s hardly surprising that Oteh is not taking the decision on Tuesday by the board of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to send on her compulsory leave lying low. She has petitioned the Presidency and the Finance Minister over the matter, hoping that she’ll be given a fair hearing. She said the board’s decision to send her on compulsory leave is illegal.

Oteh’s argument is hinged on the Investment & Securities Act 2007 which vests the authority to either appoint or remove the Director General of SEC on the president, based on a recommendation by the minister of Finance.

Meanwhile, Oteh’s camp has introduced a new twist. According to her communications adviser, Obi Adindu, the issue is not about misappropriation of funds. It was simply a case of conspiracy by a power bloc uncomfortable with the way she has handled the internal control since she came into office.

Adindu said that under Oteh the tradition of taking monies without accountability was not tolerated and the beneficiaries of the old order were uncomfortable.

Another interesting observation by Mr Adindu was that the tenure of the SEC board is supposed to expire this Friday June 15. He wondered why the board, “whose life span ought to expire this week on Friday June 15 is angling for an illegal tenure extension through the back door on the basis of the so-called special circumstance.”

However, it was gathered that pending any intervention by President Jonathan, Oteh has decided not to interfere but allow the board carry out its investigation.

In March, the board had directed its audit and finance committee to investigate all issues raised during the last public hearing by the House of Representatives committee on Capital Market, which sought to unravel the near collapse of the country’s capital market in 2008, which eventually led to Oteh being dismissed after investigations led to allegations of misappropriation of funds and counter accusations of bribery.

The board of SEC claims that Oteh was asked to leave in order to prevent her interference in the investigation.

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