Yesterday my discourse on ‘WHEN CORRUPTION BECOMES A WAY OF LIFE!’ centred on the public hearing being conducted by the Nigeria House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and other Financial Institutions.
Specifically, the sitting was looking into the activities of Ms Oteh Arunma, the Director General (DG) of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and her lieutenants who were accused of mismanagement and financial impropriety.
However, another twist emanated from the hearing on Thursday as the DG accused the Chairman of the House of Rep Committee on Capital Market, Herman Hembe of demanding bribe from her.
Ms Arunma said that the Committee Chairman had demanded a bribe of N39 million from SEC for the hearing. She further accused Mr Hembe of demanding N5million from the commission to enable him travel to the Dominican Republic to attend an emerging market conference without embarking on the journey and that the Chairman failed to refund the money he collected for the conference.
While one may not conclude at this juncture that the allegations were true or not, today’s hearing exposed some mucky activities at SEC. It was discovered that the DG authorised the purchase of three Toyota Hilux vehicles without recourse to due process. The Executive Commissioner Legal and Enforcement, Charles Udora confirmed that a memo to buy the vehicle was raised but that he refused to sign it because due process was not followed.
Another burning issue was that SEC was alleged to have paid N62 million as rent for DG in violation of the monetization policy of the Federal Government.
The committee asked the management of the commission to explain a memo that was issued by the Technical adviser to the DG, Franca Chukwuogu to the Head of Administration.
The Memo (CADEO) dated 26/01/2011 shows that Ms Chukwuogu had demanded through the head of Administration that the commission pay the rent for a five bedroom bungalow as the official rent for the DG.
Another Memo from the Head of Administration, Bello Ibrahim showed that the rent for the five bedroom apartment at Maitama district of Abuja cost the commission over N62 million. Acceptable answers were yet to to be provided.
The Committee also questioned the rational of the commission for paying the bill of the DG who on appointment stayed at the Hilton Hotel for eight months instead of the 28 days recommended by civil service rule.
The committee also accused the management of SEC of abandoning its own training institute – The Nigeria Capital Market Institute (NCMI) while dishing out training contracts to private consulting firms.
Responding to the allegations of mismanagement, the SEC boss said that the committee was not giving her a fair hearing. She accused the Committee of not giving her fair hearing: ‘Not even in Idi Amin time did we have such a kangaroo court,’ she said.
As at now, the DG has yet to satisfactorily provide answers for these allegations. Rather, she spent the time allotted her to talk to apprise Nigerians of her academic, professional and personal achievements.
Also, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Hembe was yet to state whether the bribery allegations against him and the committee were true or mere fabrication. Mr Hembe has adjourned further hearing on the matter to next Tuesday and Nigerians are patiently waiting to see becomes of the public hearing.
Hopefully, it will not be just like many others with no particular outcome.
By – Femi Olabisi