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COURT SETS ASIDE SEC'S AUDIT REPORT ON OKEREKE-ONYIUKE

By NBF News
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The audit report of the affairs of the Nigerian  Stock Exchange (NSE) under its former Director-General, Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke has been set aside by a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The quahed report was prepared at the instance of the Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC).

While delivering his ruling, Justice Charles Archibong, held that since Okereke-Onyiuke was not allowed to present her reaction or defend herself before the audit report or its interim version was put in the public domain, it was therefore void.

Justice Archibong held that the report was a breach of Section 36 of the Constitution

He decalred 'The audit exercise was short of due process and is hereby set aside.'

The judge ruled that the SEC had no authority, jurisdiction, power or control over the plaintiff who was no longer the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

He added that any invitation or summons from the commission in that regard may be honoured by her or discountenanced as she chooses.

The judge however said that nothing in the ruling precludes any legitimate investigation into the affairs of the NSE that is untainted by the highly politicised audit exercise referred to in the present suit. Reviewing the submissions of counsel, the court found that the NSE is a securities exchange subject to the regulation of SEC. The court concluded that NSE is not a parastatal or a quasi-government organisation but an autonomous company required by SEC regulations to be minimally capitalised to the tune of N500 million

The court further found out that NSE has a governing council and that Alhaji Aliko Dangote as a member of the governing council acted alone and without the sanction of the council to draw the attention of SEC to the financial affairs of the NSE. The court held that the externalisation of the domestic processes of an autonomous company by an insider such as Dangote, resulted in the direct intervention of a regulator who was indeed empowered to audit the NSE.