Many, especially members of the business community, were shocked last Friday when the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, ordered the Group Chief Executive Officer, Oando Plc, Wale Tinubu, and his Deputy, Omamofe Boyo, to immediately resign from the leading oil firm over alleged infractions and breach of stipulated rules of SEC.
The order, which was relayed via a syndicated press release, also announced an interim management Board, which will convene a special general meeting of shareholders, where new management board would be selected and inaugurated.
However, the severity of the penalties and the timing of the release have roused public curiosity as to the motive and the basis for the penalties.
Speaking during a press conference held at the Company’s head office, the Chief Operating Officer, Oando Energy Resources, Dr. Ainojie ‘Alex’ Irune, said: “We were not given a chance to review and respond to the outcome of the report. You do not sentence a person to death without giving him or her a chance to defend him or herself.
” In this instance, we have been sentenced to death without knowing what our crime is or being given a chance to defend ourselves.
“At the barest minimum, best practice requires that you give the person a chance of a fair hearing. We have not been accorded this opportunity.”
Irune further explained that when the company made the decision to drop its court case challenging the SEC’s decision to carry out a forensic audit, it was assured that it could trust the system for an independent investigation that would be fair and follow due process.
He explained further that the Management agreed to the forensic audit, having been assured that it would be done in the spirit of transparency, cooperation and full disclosure.
Since the development, which many have described as “draconian”, echoes of Oando’s sentiments seem to be resounding across the country, with everyone wanting to know what the Oando management had done to warrant such stringent penalties.
Amidst the increasing wave of criticisms of the SEC order, renowned banker, Atedo Peterside, Founder, Stanbic IBTC, wondered why the SEC would not share the findings of the forensic audit with Oando, thereby giving the management an opportunity to defend itself.
Atedo, who expressed his sentiment through the social media, went further to challenge the SEC to share the forensic audit findings and Oando’s response with the general public for all to judge.
According to a source, the forensic audit report was ready and submitted by Deloitte and Touche as far back as December 2018, adding that “The reason SEC decided to sit on the report for six months without engaging Oando where necessary remains a mystery yet to be unraveled.
“It also brings to mind the famous quote that “power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Is this a case of abuse of power or has someone been put under duress to release the report without any regard for due process? What are the details of the infractions as opposed to a summary and what are the associated penalties for each infraction according to the SEC rule book?”
The oil giant also wrote a five- page letter dated June 1, 2019, and addressed to the acting Director- General, SEC, Mary Uduk, demanding the withdrawal by SEC of the penalties listed in the letter within three days.
Also, in the letter, the Company insisted that the findings were largely unfounded and remained unsubstantiated in the absence of any representation before the regulator arrived at its sanctions.
Oando also demanded that it should be given the findings of the forensic audit as well as an opportunity to defend itself.
Another source disclosed that SEC officials are playing out a script, after allegedly receiving a bribe from Volpi owned by Gabriele Volpi, an Italian-born Nigerian businessman, who is also a business partner and close ally of the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in the last general election, Atiku Abubakar.
” It is well known to many that SEC sinks with corruption that was the reason it former DG was accused of fraud by the ICPC. ” A source added.
It was gathered that it is an agenda to wrestle the company from Tinubu, in order for them to use the Oando resources for Abubakar’s court proceedings since the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) terminated its boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement with one of its cash cow, Intels, for failure to pay $145 million in revenues to the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account ( TSA).
Shortly after the purported order by the SEC , Volpi, the Chairman and main shareholder of Intels Nigeria Limited, who has been having a running battle with Tinubu and Boyo over the control of the oil and gas company, commenced a desperate move for the soul of the company that Tinubu sweat to build from the scratch.
It was disclosed that Volpi has begun consultations since last weekend and is desperate to join Dahiru Mangal to join him, despite Mangal making peace with Tinubu and Boyo and appointing three directors into Oando Plc. But they would have no quorum to convene the board and take decisions.
However, on Monday, June 3, Tinubu floored SEC at the Federal High Court in Lagos. In a ruling, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun restrained the SEC from removing Tinubu and Boyo as Oando Plc’s Group Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer, respectively.
Justice Olatoregun granted the interim injunction, following an application filed by both Tinubu and Boyo.
The Oando chiefs had applied for enforcement of their fundamental rights.
The court also restrained SEC, its servants or agents from taking any step concerning the Commission’s letter dated May 31 in which it barred Tinubu and Boyo from being directors of a public company for five years.
Justice Olatoregun also restrained the Commission from imposing a fine of N91.13 million on Tinubu.
The Judge also ordered SEC to restrain from all actions on the said letter pending hearing and determination of the applicants’ motion for an interlocutory injunction.
Justice Olatoregun restrained Mutiu Sunmonu from acting as the Head of Oando’s interim management team pending the hearing and determination of the motion.