By Chika Amanze-Nwachuku
Minority shareholders of Oando Plc under the aegis of the Proactive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PROSAN) have petitioned the House Committee on Capital Market and other Institutions, accusing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of shielding Oando Plc from probe.
The allegation was contained in a fresh petition, signed by Mr. Taiwo Oderinde and Barrister Nnodu Okeke, the National Coordinator and Legal Adviser respectively of the association, dated February 21, 2018 and titled 'Dangerous and Malicious Deliberate Attempts By the acting Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to Cover-up Oando Nigeria Plc and Protect the Company from Forensic Audit'.
While commending the House Committee on its unrelenting efforts to sanitise the Nigerian capital market and to make it one of the best in the world, PROSAN said the time had come to take decisive action on the forensic audit of Oando Plc.
PROSAN had earlier petitioned to the lawmakers on the state of Oando Plc, prompting them to direct the SEC to investigate various allegations against the oil giant.
The shareholders further added: "Being the regulator that is primarily responsible for protecting Investors in the Capital market, SEC instituted a consortium of experts commissioned to carry out a forensic audit on the company."
They alleged: "Upon the announcement of the consortium, the management of Oando Nigeria Plc has continued to desperately explore diverse avenues to frustrate the forensic audit, which the management of the company clearly fears would reveal more than is already known.
"The company sought to stop the forensic audit by challenging the decision in court, but appropriate justice was delivered and the company lost," the petition stated.
"Since Mr. Munir Gwarzo was suspended as the Director-General of SEC by the Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun on November 29, 2017, the present management has shown a lack of willingness to continue with the forensic audit of Oando as directed by the lawmakers", the shareholders stressed.
They therefore prayed the lawmakers to "urgently invite the acting Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr. Abdul Zubair for questioning, to ascertain the authenticity of the forensic audit team set-up to probe Oando Nigeria Plc".
They also want SEC to convince shareholders that there will not be compromise in the Oando probe.
"It may interest the honourable chairman that shareholders who bought the shares of Oando Nigeria Plc at N95 have lost more than 90% of their investments while the company's CEO is acquiring new expensive automobiles and jets.
"Many of our members have become victims of hypertension watching their investments tumble without any hope for salvage in sight. Many have even died as a result of this uncertainty that has engulfed the company," the group alleged.
Oando Plc, in a filing to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) last week stated that the release of its financial results for the year ended 31, 2017 would be delayed owing to the decision of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) to undertake a more detailed review of its audited financial statements.
"The FRCN has indicated interest in undertaking a more detailed review of the company's audited financial statements as part of their statutory review due to the issues raised by the recent investigation of the company by the SEC. We envisage that the FRCN's review might take longer than originally anticipated. Therefore, the company may not be able to file the accounts until the second week in May, the exact date of filing will be dependent on the turnaround time at the FRCN.
A member of the committee, who would not want his name in print, confirmed the fresh petition. He however declined further comments, insisting that the outcome of the investigation would be made known later.