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UNTOLD STORY OF OKEREKE ONYIUKE'S REMOVAL

By NBF News
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When, on August 4, 2010, news broke out that the former Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Pro. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, has been removed the fine details of her removal, the intriguing cross-fire of enforcing her exit and the undercurrents of events leading up to the fateful day were however missing. But Daily Sun can authoritatively report that high level intrigues underscored the incident.

Security report prepared by the Exchange on the day of former DG's removal which was obtained by Daily Sun claimed that suspected men of the State Security Service had taken away the NSE Secretary, Mrs. Josephine Igbinosun to their Ikoyi, Lagos Office for delivery of letters from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). There she was said to have signed two letters from SEC, one directed to Okereke-Onyiuke and another to Alhaji Aliko Dangote.

'The Gestapo tactic of abducting the secretary to council, a law-abiding citizen apparently for the purpose of delivering letters from SEC was strange and scary especially in these days of kidnapping activities, causing senior management to scout around town for her', the report stated.

It continued, 'Trading on the Exchange is conducted under the authority of the President of Council of the Exchange who has delegated the authority to the DG/CEO. In the absence of the President and the DG/CEO, there has neither been any delegation of authority to open the trading nor access code to open the trading engine'.

The report signed by management further added that 'The confusion has not been helped by a press statement by SEC purporting that the Commission would announce interim arrangements for the Exchange. This has also created doubts as to who is responsible for conducting trading on the Exchange'.

Such was the confusion that marked the removal of the DG who is now said to be in hiding for fear of molestation by the authorities. An impeccable source disclosed that since SEC and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) began moves to vacate the interim injunction restraining her arrest, the former DG has decided to seek for safety outside Lagos.

Following the allegations of corporate governance lapses and financial irregularity and mismanagement against NSE DG by the former Council president, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decided to remove the NSE leadership to enable it launch an immediate and transparent investigation into the Exchange and its staff.

A letter by SEC with reference number SEC/DG/08/03 and dated 4 AUG, 2010 directed the Exchange to forthwith (and before the resumption of the next trading on the Exchange) remove the DG/CEO of the NSE from office.

While noting that the directive was given in pursuance of the Commission's powers under sections13,35,47,48,49, and 308 of Industrial and Securities Act (ISA) the letter titled 'Notice of removal of the DG of the NSE' cited three major reasons why it had resorted to forceful removal of the DG.

It reads
'We write to inform the NSE that the DG of the Exchange has: failed to comply with the SEC's directive to provide satisfactory documentation in rebuttal of allegations that the Exchange has been carrying out its duties in a manner that is detrimental to the interest of its beneficiaries and creditors; failed to comply to Sec's directive to provide adequate documentation in rebuttal of allegations that the NSE is in precarious financial situation; and failed to satisfy the SEC that the NSE continues to be subject to the effective supervisory oversight of the council, and in particular has failed to satisfactorily rebut the allegation that the Council has not held a meeting since March 12, 2010. Each of the derelictions stated above has independently necessitated intervention by Commission. As a consequence, the Commission hereby directs the NSE to forthwith (and before the resumption of the next trading on the Exchange) remove the NSE DG/CEO from such office'.

Also on the same date, another letter from SEC with reference number SEC/DG/08/05 and dated 04 Aug. 2010, was addressed to Dangote. The letter captioned 'Directive to respect court order' reads in part 'The Commission has concluded that it is necessary for the protection of investors and in the interest of the public that you obey the court order and cause to parade yourself as president of NSE.

As a consequence, the Commission hereby directs that the court order should be obeyed and you cease to hold yourself out as the president of the NSE'. Almost simultaneously, a third letter addressed to the office of the NSE DG, with a reference number SEC/DG/08/04 announced the removal of the DG. The letter titled 'Your Removal From Office Of DG of NSE' and dated August 5, 2010, was slightly different from the initial letter to the DG made reference to an earlier letter dated July 28 2010 and the DG's response contained in a letter dated 29th July 2010.

'We have considered your letter under reference and note that you: failed to comply with the SEC's directive to provide satisfactory documentation in rebuttal of allegations that the Exchange has been carrying out its duties in the that is detrimental to the interest of its beneficiaries and creditors; failed to comply to Sec's directive to provide adequate documentation in rebuttal of allegations that the NSE is in precarious financial situation; and failed to satisfy the SEC that the NSE continues to be subject to the effective supervisory oversight of the council, and in particular has failed to satisfactorily rebut the allegation that the council has not held a meeting since March 12, 2010. Each of the derelictions stated above has independently necessitated intervention by Commission. The Commission has concluded that it is in the interest of the public that the DG be removed from the office. Your removal is with immediate effect'.