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OKEREKE-ONYUIKE LOSES BID TO SHUT OUT NSE FROM SACK SUIT

By NBF News
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A FEDERAL High Court, Lagos yesterday thwarted a bid by the former Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Prof. Ndi Okereke-Onyuike, to have her former employer shut out of a suit she filed to challenge the termination of her appointment last year by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The trial judge, Mohammed Idris, in his ruling on the matter, granted the request by the NSE to be allowed to put in its defence in the suit.

The judge, who ordered the NSE to put in its defence, also allowed the re-presentation of argument of the plaintiff's originating summons.

But Idris declined to set aside the proceedings of March 9, 2011 during which the SEC argued and adopted its final address and ordered the plaintiff to file its reply to the NSE's counter-affidavit to the originating summons.

He adjourned to April 15 for the plaintiff and NSE to argue their applications and adopt their final addresses, preparatory to the judgment.

SEC, it will be recalled, sacked okereke-Onyuike, on August 5, 2010 in accordance with its powers under the Investment and Securities Act (ISA), over allegation of misconducts on her part, which the commission perceived as capable of negatively impacting the fortune of the stock market and the image of NSE.

She had, while opposing NSE's inclusion in the case, argued that it was a ploy to delay the prompt determination of the suit.

Okereke-Onyuike stated that she was neither seeking to be reinstated nor did she intend to disrupt the on-going efforts by the interim management to reorganise and restructure the stock market.

The ex-NSE chief, who said she was through with the NSE, having tendered her resignation letter before her sack, stated that she harboured no grudge against her former employer and intends not to raise any claim against it.

Okereke-Onyuike said her suit was to challenge the propriety of her removal by SEC and to among others, restrain SEC and its agents from treating and relating to her 'as a removed DG of the NSE.'

She is also claiming N3 billion as damages against SEC.

The NSE, however, argued in its motion that there was no way its interest would not be affected whichever way the case was decided. It noted that despite its former DG's assurance that her case was not directed at NSE, its organisation, management and operations could be affected by the case's outcome.

NSE's Legal Adviser, Tinuade Awe, said in a supporting affidavit that Okereke-Onyuike, who attained the mandatory retirement age of 60 years last November, had tendered her resignation letter last August and had intended to exit the company last December.

She acknowledged the existence of 'some allegations of wrong-doings and inappropriate conducts regarding the plaintiff's tenure of office as the DG of the NSE.'

Okereke-Onyuike stated that NSE's procedures in addressing issues of discipline required that the target of such disciplinary inquiry vacated office while such inquiry was being conducted.

Awe stated that NSE was currently restructuring its operations, including personnel reorganisation and possible recruitment of senior members of management, as part of efforts by the new management to reposition the exchange and restore public confidence in the nation's stock market.

The lawyer said NSE's participation in the case was to ensure that all necessary facts were made available to avert a decision that could unduly interfere with its on-going internal restructuring process.