Absence of live television coverage stops capital market probe

The House of Representative’s investigators of the nation’s wobbling capital market suspended a hearing on Monday after failing to reach a deal for a live telecast of the touchy probe that has already recorded a fraud scandal.

Ibrahim El-Sudi, who heads the ad hoc committee set up to replace the former Herman Hembe-led committee on capital market, said there was a “communication chasm” with Channels television which was to relay the deliberations.

However, those informed about the deal said the house failed to make payments for the transmission after promising to do so since Friday

Somehow, the breakdown told another story: that of a new committee attempting to tread cautiously after its predecessor was consumed by a bribery allegation that dealt a devastating blow on the image of a house struggling to win public trust after years of similar charges.

More so, coming almost at the same time the release of the House fuel subsidy report gained massive attention of Nigerians, the committee appears to be courting transparency even more.

Mr. Hembe, who headed the substantive House capital committee, stood down with the members of his committee after being accused of asking for N44 million bribes from the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), one of the agencies due for questioning by the committee.

In return, the former chairman said it was the agency, through its Director General, Arunma Oteh, that offered to bribe the committee with N30 million. It was Ms. Oteh who raised the first allegation.

At the committee’s inauguration last week, the House speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, said Nigerian should forget the past, and Mr. El-Sudi has repeatedly promised an unbiased look into the near collapse of the capital market, in a manner that will be transparent.

“Nigerians are interested in knowing what is happening so that confidence can be restored,” Mr. El-Sudi said after calling off the sitting. The hearing is now set to hold on Wednesday, he said.

In a schedule it has drawn up, the committee exhibited what appeared to be a deliberate caution, clearly categorizing invitees to the hearing into the various sectors of the capital market, with the regulators, such as the SEC and the CBN, coming amongst the last.

While that should allow analyst and market watchers, fund providers, operators issuing houses and insurance companies to make presentations that would help prepare the lawmakers to question the regulators, it was also targeted at calming nerves over the Oteh controversy, those informed say. Such meticulous presentation was lacking with the former committee.

At the stalled sitting Monday, in attendance were the Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, a deputy governor the Central Bank (in charge of financial system stability, Kingsley Moghalu, and the DG of SEC, Ms. Oteh.

Ms. Oteh refused to speak to journalists when asked whether she backed the rescheduling. The minister, Mr. Ngama, said having to wait for a live transmission was the best for the hearing.

“Information is the key thing in capital market. Any attempt to tamper with the flow of information will not actually help the market,” he said.


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