The embattled Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commision, Ms Arunma Oteh, is likely to petition President Goodluck Jonathan to reverse the order by the SEC board asking her to proceed on compulsory leave.
Our correspondent gathered that Oteh, who is well connected in the Presidency, had vowed not to take the issue lying down.
A close aide of the DG, who asked not to be named, said the decision sending her on compulsory leave was taken to ridicule her as well as pursue an agenda of tenure extension.
The source said, “You will recall that all the members of the SEC Board, apart from the DG, are due to end their tenure on the board this Friday, and so coming up with this kind of thing now, surely, seems like a bid to unduly extend their tenure.
“However, Oteh has a lot of options open to her, and she will take the matter to her employer to query the decision of the board in terms of due process and fairness. It is obvious that due process was not followed in all this.”
A statement by SEC on Tuesday, noted that its board had directed Oteh to proceed on compulsory leave to enable the commission to investigate issues arising from the recent probe of the capital market decline by the House of Representatives.
The statement signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Mr. Edosa Aigbekan, said, “The Board of the SEC at its 66th meeting held on June 11, 2012, has directed the Director-General, Ms. Arunma Oteh, to proceed on compulsory leave to enable an independent investigation to be undertaken in respect of the Project 50 programme, which was carried out by the Commission in 2011. The Executive Commissioner (Operations), Ms. Daisy Ekineh, will act in her absence.
“The decision of the board was arrived at after consideration of the report of its Audit and Finance Committee, which had been directed to investigate the sources and uses of funds for the Project 50 event.
Continuing, the statement said, “Among its conclusions, the committee recommended an independent audit of Project 50 and that the key actors in the management of the funds should be asked to step aside to allow an unhindered investigation.”
But the source who spoke to our correspondent said that the DG did not need to step aside for investigations to be carried out. He added that Oteh had always maintained a clear stand on the issue right from the start.
He said, “There have been some wild allegations against Oteh in recent times, to the effect that SEC’s Project 50 cost between N2bn and N3bn. The audit and finance committee of the board actually conducted investigation and asked questions about project 50, and they were given all the responses, including the precise cost of Project 50, which was no more than N155m. This is less than 10 per cent of N2bn.