Nigeria bank crisis: SEC clears Okereke-Onyiuke


Nigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has exonerated the Director-General of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), Dr. (Mrs.) Ndidi Okereke-Onyiuke, over her alleged role in the recent crisis in the banking sector that saw five chief executives and executive directors sacked, as it said it was satisfied with her response to the query she was issued.

The commission also said it may take some time before the capital market recovers.

SEC's Acting Director-General, Ms. Daisy Ekineh, while briefing newsmen yesterday in Abuja on recent developments in the Capital Market, said issues raised by the commission which Okereke-Onyiuke “responded to satisfactorily and in good time” bordered on alleged involvement of NSE council members in the mismanagement of credits in the affected five banks; the technical suspension placed on quoted companies aside the affected five banks; and her role in the debts owed the affected banks by Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp), which she chairs.

The commission had, shortly after the CBN sacked the CEOs and executive directors of the five banks, asked Okereke-Onyiuke to explain within seven days, why the name of the company she chairs appeared on the list of non-performing debtors of the five banks given her position as the chief executive officer of the NSE where the five banks are also listed.

“All the issues we raised have been addressed by her and we are satisfied by her response. We are satisfied by her response to the query we gave and she responded in good time,” the SEC boss said.
On the conflict between Okereke-Onyuike's role as NSE DG and chairman of Transcorp, Ekineh said there were still issues surrounding that, but because of the state of the market, she would not comment on that.
Answering questions on the role of SEC in the banking sector crisis, Ekineh said the commission was not indicted.

While noting that no stockbroker had also been indicted so far, she however cautioned that investigations were till ongoing and pleaded with Nigerians to wait for the outcome of investigations.
Ekineh also disclosed that SEC was part of the investigating team comprising the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) that is probing the affected banks' officials.

“Indeed, the commission's staff have been very instrumental in uncovering aspects of the investigations that relate to capital market transactions. Our staff will therefore continue to participate actively in the different teams until the ongoing exercise is completed,” she added.

She also said, the commission was currently undertaking on-site target inspection of registered entities in the market in different parts of the country. The exercise, she pointed out, “is meant to ascertain the state of health of firms operating in the capital market, as a follow up to offsite returns periodically submitted to the commission by the firms.”

On the recovery of the stock market, Ekineh said that may not happen soon as it takes time before a stock market recovers.

According to her, “the rate of recovery of the market happens to be low. If you are a watcher of market downturn, when you have this type of issue, it takes a while before the market bounces back. It will take a while before investors come back to the market.

“It is not peculiar to Nigeria, it took a while before Asian market bounced back in the 90s, the same with the market in the United States.”

She however expressed optimism that the banking sector crisis will strengthen confidence in the capital market at the end of the day.