More trouble for Arunma Oteh as Senate wants her removed

It is perhaps the first time in Nigeria's history that the two chambers of the legislature have jointly moved against an indicted official
It is perhaps the first time in Nigeria's history that the two chambers of the legislature have jointly moved against an indicted official

A committee of the Senate on Thursday asked President Goodluck Jonathan to remove Arunma Oteh, Director-General of  Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), from office as recommended by the House of Representatives.

In a statement in Abuja, the Chairman of the Committee on Capital Market, Senator Ayoade Adeseun,  said the committee would have nothing to do with Ms Oteh as long as she remained as the head of  SEC.

The statement said that since Ms Oteh resumed duty at SEC, there had been series of protests against her style of management at the commission.

“Rather than seek amity with the workforce, she has continued with the same style of administration for which even the Presidential Review Committee indicted her.

“Specifically, the members of staff have again accused her of highhandedness, sole administratorship, intimidation, insensitivity, malice and a headlong drive for vengeance,” it said.

It said it was in view of this development that the committee at its meeting on Sept. 26, took the resolution to call for Oteh’s removal.

The statement said that if the trend was not checked, the Nigerian Capital Market might be brought finally to its knees with attendant deleterious effect on the economy.

“The committee therefore resolved to support the position of the House of Representatives that the D.G (SEC) be removed forthwith.

“The committee also resolved to have nothing to do with Ms. Arunma Oteh for as long as she remained at the helm of affairs at the Security and Exchange Commission,” it said.

It is perhaps the first time in Nigeria’s history that the two chambers of the legislature have jointly moved against a supposedly indicted official explicitly terminating formal relations with such an official.

The House of Representatives had set up an ad-hoc committee to look into the challenges confronting the smooth running of the commission.

Although the investigation was almost marred by allegations of bribery, the committee called  for her sack.

However, the executive recalled Ms Oteh from suspension instead.

The House of Representatives had on September 18 announced that it will no longer recognize Ms Oteh as DG of SEC, and urged her immediate removal.

The lawmakers insisted President Jonathan must fire the SEC boss in line with an earlier position of the House; failure of which legislators will cease to accord her any recognition as the commission’s Director General, DG.

The unprecedented order, indicating an ambitious attempt by the House to ensure executive compliance with its frequently ignored resolutions, was seen by observers as a fresh chapter in a running controversy between the lawmakers and Ms. Oteh.

Ms. Oteh, who was entangled in an elaborate bribery scandal against some lawmakers early this year, was amongst officials indicted by the House investigation of the nation’s fledgling capital market in July.

She had accused the capital market committee, headed then by the Herman Hembe, of soliciting a N44 million bribe, setting off a string of controversies that lasted months.

Mr. Hembe was forced to resign as the committee head, not before accusing Ms. Oteh of attempting to bribe the committee with N30 million.

An ad hoc committee named as a replacement, headed by Ibrahim El Sudi, found Ms. Oteh, earlier accused of embarking on frivolous spending spree, guilty of a range of irregularities and demanded her removal.

The recommendation was rejected by the Federal Government which immediately reinstated Ms. Oteh from a month-old suspension.

The controversies continued for the embattled DG with the commission’s staff rejecting her leadership and repeatedly staging protests to seek her removal.The House said on Tuesday, in a motion sponsored by Nicholas Ossai, it stood by its decision and criticized the president for his penchant for disobeying resolutions emanating from the National Assembly.