Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun Friday claimed that some vested interests were blackmailing her over her recent suspension of the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Mounir Gwarzo, and the setting up of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry instituted against him.
She did not name the alleged blackmailers but vowed to resist them.
The minister spoke to reporters in Abuja in response to media reports suggesting that Gwarzo’s suspension was on account of “his refusal to stop the forensic audit of Oando Plc.”
She said it was “this threat of blackmail that strengthened my resolve to suspend Mr. Gwarzo and allow the Administrative Panel of Inquiry to proceed with its probe.”
Gwarzo, according to the minister, “personally delivered the memo using SEC staff seconded to the office of the Minister, in breach of normal procedures for the receipt of mail. The copy of the memo in my possession was delivered with a message that any action against Mr. Gwarzo would result in same being leaked to the press.”
She added: “Gwarzo’s suspension is in line with the Public Service Rules (PSRs), to allow for an unhindered investigation of serious allegations of financial impropriety against him.
“Some of the allegations with documented evidence include the awards of contracts to companies related to him and members of his family.
“Based on the evidence from that further work and creditable reports that documents were being unlawfully removed from SEC, as well as consultations with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the decision was taken to suspend Mr. Gwarzo.”
Adeosun dismissed as false, insinuation that she issued an “instruction to discontinue with the Oando case,” saying “this can be corroborated by the other parties at that meeting and by subsequent events.”
She said: “Gwarzo was queried on the 3rd of November 2017 and he responded on the 7th and based on that response I asked for more investigations to be done because he gave some responses to some issues that were unsatisfactory so we asked for further investigation to get certain facts from the CAC, and banks based on the evidence.
“It became clear that we would need to conduct an API and therefore the laws of the Public Service say he has to be suspended.
“Now his responses to the query of the 3rd were raised with him on Monday where he was asked to clarify matters. He was reminded that he said this, but we have evidence to another effect and it became very clear from the inadequacies of his response that he would be suspended.”
On the Oando issue, the minister said: “he was never directed to stop his investigation into Oando.
“In fact as I have said earlier on in my statement, in October when the original suspension of Oando took place, we had a group meeting with the leadership of the SEC not just Mr. Gwarzo but all of his team, and they presented very clear evidence that Oando had a case to answer, and we were satisfied with that and we made our position clear.”
On investors’ confidence in the capital market, the finance minister argued that “shareholders have nothing to fear. I earned my leaving all my life from the capital market up until I entered public service; I was a capital market operator. The capital market runs on confidence and transparency it’s a very important market, the SEC is not an individual it is an institution and a very important one which must be upheld.”