Shareholders of Oando Plc on Wednesday protest peacefully in Abuja to demand the suspension of the management team of the company.
The shareholders were led on the demonstration by the Coordinator, Proactive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Taiwo Oderinde; Chairman, Trusted Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Muhtar Muhtar; and their Legal Adviser, Mr. Nnodu Okeke.
The protest, which commenced at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, saw the shareholders marching through the streets to the gate of the National Assembly.
Addressing journalists, Muhtar said the shareholders were demanding the suspension of the current management team of Oando by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This, according to him, will allow the external auditors who are currently carrying out a forensic audit of the company to perform their assignment without undue interference.
He called on the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on the Capital Market to ensure that the company did not compromise the regulators, adding that the forensic audit was not being done in line with international best practices.
Muhtar said following the delay in concluding the forensic audit by the auditors, many of the shareholders were beginning to lose confidence in the efficacy of the exercise.
He stated, “We are here today to express our grievances as we have done in the past on the regulatory issues, which affect Oando Plc. We have been fighting for several months; there have been a lot of financial mismanagement in the company.
“The Securities and Exchange Commission has instituted a forensic audit in order to investigate the accounts of the oil giant but some certain things are happening now that we can’t understand, because the process clearly seems truncated now.
“We are aware that the forensic audit costs the former director-general of SEC his position, because he insisted that there is a fundamental need for the forensic audit to go ahead because of some established infractions.
“For that reason, the former DG was removed and another one appointed, but the process seems to have been truncated, because we are not hearing anything about the audit and we cannot allow regulatory infractions to go unpunished.”
He added, “We cannot allow financial mismanagement to go free. During the tenure of the former Central Bank Governor (Lamido Sanusi), about eight managing directors of banks were sacked for infractions and a clear process was established for the recapitalisation of those affected banks.
“So, we can’t understand why SEC and the Minister of Finance can’t take action. They told us the forensic audit is still ongoing but nothing is currently happening.
“So, that is the purpose why we are here to let the National Assembly know about our grievances so that they can see what is happening and put all the pressure on the regulatory authorities to do what is necessary.”
The Acting Director-General, SEC, Dr. Abdul Zubair, had blamed the delay in concluding the forensic audit on lawsuits instituted by some shareholders of the company and the management team of Oando against the commission.
The company had challenged the decision of SEC to appoint a team of forensic auditors to conduct an audit of its affairs.
But on March 5, Oando Plc withdrew the pending lawsuit against SEC through an application heard and granted by the Court of Appeal.
The acting SEC DG, while confirming the development, said the application for withdrawal by the shareholders had also been heard and granted by the Federal High Court on February 21.
Zubair stated that following the dismissal and the striking out of the two suits, SEC through its auditor, Deloitte, would continue with the forensic audit.
He said, “Oando Plc has withdrawn the pending lawsuit against the commission and granted by the Court of Appeal on March 5. Also, the application for withdrawal by the shareholders was heard and granted by the Federal High Court on February 21, 2018.
“Following the dismissal and striking out of the suits, the SEC has duly informed the firm of Deloitte to proceed with the forensic audit. The commission is committed to its primary mandate of protecting investors and will take all necessary steps to fulfil that mandate and uphold the integrity of the capital market.”