Reps insist Jonathan fires SEC boss, Arunma Oteh

SEC DG, Aruma Oteh,

The resolution is seen as a subtle threat to the Nigerian president over budget review request.

The House of Representatives on Thursday repeated its call to President Goodluck Jonathan to fire the Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission, Arunma Oteh, in what appears a subtle condition for approving budget amendment proposals sent in by Mr. Jonathan this week.

The president had on Tuesday urged the Senate and the House to revise the 2013 budget, expunge clauses that encroach on his fiscal authority, and provide budgetary funding for SEC, which was denied by the lawmakers seeking Ms. Oteh’s sack.

But the House reminded the president, in a new motion, of its earlier decision seeking Ms. Oteh’s removal from office. The House, however, declined to state whether that was a condition for approving budget amendments proposed by the president.

Spokespersons of the House, Zakari Mohammed and Victor Ogene, could not be reached for comments. But Minority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, conceded that the motion was provoked by the president’s letter to the House on Tuesday.

The SEC chief has been embroiled in a longstanding controversy with the House after she accused the House capital market of soliciting bribes from the commission.

In ensuing investigations early 2012, the House curiously indicted Ms. Oteh and demanded she be removed from office. The Senate later backed the decision, both citing Ms. Oteh’s lack of prerequisite years of experience for the job ahead of her appointment.

Despite repeated resolutions echoing that decision, Mr. Jonathan has rebuffed the lawmakers and retained Ms. Oteh in office.

The zero budget for SEC was to force the president’s hand to heed the lawmakers call.

But in a request for amendments to the 2013 budget, Mr. Jonathan brushed aside the concerns, and asked that the commission’s budget be restored. The president also rejected clauses inserted by the two chambers to check his powers for the release of budget funds.

He said withholding SEC funds wills stifle the market.

“Considering the fact that the budget of the Securities and Exchange Commission does not form part of the core 2013 Federal Budget as presented to the National Assembly, I believe that this clause ought not to have been inserted in the 2013 Appropriation Act in the first place,” the president said.

“Secondly, the import of the clause is tantamount to shutting down the business of the Commission with a potential negative impact on the capital market.”

The new motion, moved by Deputy Minority Whip, Garba Dati, mandated the House Committee on Legislative Compliance to monitor the president’s compliance and report back within 21 days.

Mr. Dati said the president’s refusal to act on the SEC case was a continuation of blatant disregard for resolutions by the House.

“Recently, the Executive has adopted the dangerous and vexatious approach of picking and choosing the implementation of resolutions of the Senate on the dismissal of Abdulrasheed Maina, which was passed much later in time, while still disregarding the long pending motion on the removal of the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission,” Mr. Datti said.

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