The board of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sent its Director General, Ms. Arunma Oteh, on compulsory leave, pending the investigation of allegations into her stewardship, THISDAY has learnt.
Ms. Daisy Ekineh, Executive Commissioner, Operations, will act in her absence. The board is expected to make the announcement of Oteh’s leave Tuesday.
Confirming the decision to send her on leave Monday night, a source in the presidency said it was taken by the board in order to carry out its investigation into some of the initiatives under Oteh’s stewardship such as Project 50, which is a programme packaged by the DG to celebrate 50 years of capital market regulation in Nigeria.
The source added that the SEC board might have also been influenced by a lot of the revelations that emerged during the capital market probe by the House of Representatives in March and later in April to May this year.
The board was said to have been dismayed by the level of disharmony within the organisation that was displayed by Oteh and her executive commissioners and the toll and loss of confidence her administrative style had taken on SEC.
Oteh has been under fire for the past three months when the House Committee of Capital Markets and Institutions commenced its public hearing into the factors that led to the collapse of the equities market.
But the probe turned out to be a slanging match between her and its chairman, Hon. Herman Hembe, as they accused each other of sundry issues, culminating in her allegation that he had asked for a N39 million bribe to influence the outcome of the probe.
She also accused him of collecting a ticket and estacode to attend a capacity building workshop in the Dominican Republic, which he never attended and yet he failed to retire the money plus ticket.
The bitter exchange of words between them and allegation of bribe compelled Hembe to step down from the probe committee, while the House reconstituted an ad hoc committee headed by Hon. Ibrahim El-Sudi to conduct a fresh probe of the capital market.
The ad hoc committee, which sat between April and early last month, threw up a lot of revelations, chief of which was the rancour and disharmony between Oteh and her commissioners.
When the issue of Project 50 was brought up at the public hearing, all the executive commissioners of SEC distanced themselves from the project, insisting that Oteh was fond of taking decisions unilaterally.
They also alleged that Project 50 had been outsourced to an external company which had collected funds from sponsors for the celebrations.