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Senate Blasts Stock Exchange Commission Over N30 Billion Gombe Bond

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja – As the Senate winds-up budget defense ahead of the passage of the 2015 budget next week, the Senate Committee on Capital Market on Thursday descended on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for disobeying a court order on the N30billion bond to Gombe State

The Committee also queried the Acting Director General of the Commission, Munir Gwarzo for spending the 2014 budget which was not approved by both chambers of the National Assembly.

Tempers were high at the 2015 budget defense among Senators who are members of the Committee on Capital Market, as they hit hard on management of SEC

First to throw the first salvo was Chairman of the Committee, Ayo Adeseun who posited that regardless of the approval given by the Board of SEC on budget estimates, it remains a proposal if it is not approved by the National Assembly.

“If your Board approved that is not the end of the story. After your Board approval, whatever comes from the Board is still a proposal. But that didn’t happen for 2014,” he stated.

A member of the Committee, Magnus Abe wondered why the Commission would give another N10bilion to Gombe State as bond when the initial N20billion was enmeshed in controversy including a court order.

He stated: “For a state that receives less than N3billion a month and they now have an obligation of over N700million on loans tied to their allocation. I think that the whole culture of irresponsibility and disdain for the feelings of the public and Nigerian people is reflecting in everything that this Commission is doing.

“There must be some kind of behaviour for some kind of behaviour. If we don’t do that then we are failing the people of this country”.

Also speaking, Goje, a former governor of Gombe State expressed anger that the future of people of the state has been mortgaged, adding that”One of the projects they said they spent N10billion, we found out that they have not spent up to N200million”.

According to him, if the issue of last year’s budget wasn’t resolved, the committee would not be a party to 2015 budget proposals.

“It is becoming obvious to us that SEC survived on the basis of illegality. The Gombe State Government took a loan of N20billion and there were serious allegations that the loan was not judicially utilised. And there were petitions in the paper. We know Oteh’s inadequacies but she was careful enough not to approve the additional N10billion until the issues raised were resolved. People have gone to court challenging the utilisation of that money.

“As careless as Oteh was, she didn’t approve it. Immediately you assumed office, less than two weeks you approved it, disregarding all the weighty issues raised by the people of Gombe. You indebted us recklessly. We have been mortgaged. Everybody was wondering why you DG who is just aspiring for confirmation. Oteh who was substantive DG did not approve it, you Acting DG who will come before this Committee for confirmation decided to ignored the people of Gombe State and approved N10billion for them without resolving those issues.

“We have no reason to consider 2015 budget for them because we must resolve 2014”, he said.

However, Anthony Adeniyi pleaded for clemency, urging the committee to use the Commission’s 2014 budget as a guide to the 2015 estimates.Responding, Gwarzo maintained that the Commission set up a committee which certified the projects in Gombe, adding that SEC did not receive any court order on the matter.He also clarified that the Commission’s spending for 2014 was restricted to personnel and overhead and not capital expenditure.He said: “We complied with all the laws that govern the operations in the capital market. On the issue of Gombe, we constituted a committee that went and did the verification.

The committee submitted its report and each member of the committee certified that they had done the inspection and they were satisfied with the utilisation of the proceeds.”With respect to the spending of 2014, we had interaction with the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Compliance. And they gave us the go-ahead to spend money on keys issues because they recognised the fact that if SEC does not have a kobo and spend a kobo, it means that the entire capital market will be closed down and by extension, the economy will also be closed down”.


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