The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said over N30 billion had so far been paid to investors in the Nigerian capital market from the backlog of unclaimed dividends.
A statement by the management of SEC on Monday in Abuja said that the commission had also extended the free e-Dividend enrolment to June 30.
It stated that the measure was to further reduce the unclaimed dividends profile and curb its growth in the country.
It recalled that SEC, with a view to ensuring all investors benefited from the free E-Dividend programme, committed to pay the cost of enrolment throughout the year 2016.
It stated that the move resulted in the enrolment of about 48 per cent of investors for the e-dividend payments.
“Arising from this exercise, over N30 billion which was hitherto unclaimed, have so far been credited to respective bank accounts of investors.
“Therefore, the advantage of the e-dividend is not only to enable investors collect subsequent dividends electronically but it allows all accrued dividends be credited to investors’ bank accounts.
“The commission has, however observed with concern, the challenges being experienced by investors in the course of the e-Dividend registration.
“It therefore commits to further defray the cost of registration till June 30th, 2017, to enable investors continue to enjoy the free registration” the SEC stated.
It stated that at the expiration of the free registration period, dividend warrants would no longer be issued but would be replaced with electronic payments.
It explained that the decision underscored the commission’s strong focus on market development and enhancement of investor confidence.
“All investors in the Nigerian Capital Market are, therefore, advised to take advantage of this extended grace period by approaching their Bankers or Registrars for enrolment before the deadline.
E-dividend payment platform was introduced to address the rising incidence of unclaimed dividends in the Nigerian capital market.
“It is also expected to address the lingering problem of unclaimed dividends, which the market had sought solution for the past 20 years.”
The SEC Director-General, Mounir Gwarzo, said that efforts by the commission to ensure that the era of stale dividends and huge unclaimed dividends in the market become a thing of the past was already achieving result with the e-dividend registration system.
Mr. Gwarzo said, “when we started the e-dividend, the major challenge was for people to key into the e-dividend mandate.
“There are unclaimed dividends that have not been claimed; the registrars have been compelled to pay all the arrears of unclaimed dividends.
“In this country, we have never had this kind of initiative that has reduced unclaimed dividends like we have today.
“Apart from the investor getting his dividends where ever he is, that investor will be able to get dividends that in the last five years he has not been able to get.”
He further said that the e-dividend was for the interest of retail investors.