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Reps warn SEC against flouting budget embargo

Director-General, Ms. Arunma Oteh
The House of Representatives on Wednesday warned the Securities and Exchange Commission on the consequences of flouting the 2013 Appropriation Act which bars the agency from spending any fund this year.

The National Assembly gave zero allocation to SEC in the N4.9tr 2013 budget it was passed on December 20, 2012. President Goodluck Jonathan had signed the budget into law on February 27.

Clause 10 of the Act specifically bars the SEC from spending any fund, including internally-generated revenue, on its operations this year.

It clarified that the only condition under which the agency could spend money was for the Director-General, Ms. Aruma Oteh, to be removed from office.

But the House observed on Wednesday that a report in a newspaper publication on Tuesday indicated that SEC was spending its internally-generated revenue to beat the budget ban by the legislature.

It also noted that the “body language” of the officials of the commission lately suggested that the commission was operating in breach of the Appropriation Act.

The report indicated that SEC reportedly generated N1.88bn internally between January and July, largely from stock market transaction commissions and regulatory charges.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, described the development as “an act of impunity.”

Mohammed stated that the National Assembly had not reversed its position on SEC, expressing surprise that the agency had been flouting a law and “publicly declaring so.”

He said, “What we are seeing in the case of SEC is that the era of impunity is still on.

“That an agency of government is breaking a law duly passed by the National Assembly is an act of impunity.

“Nigerians now know how the laws of this country are being broken.”

Mohammed said the matter would have been tabled before the House if not that the lawmakers were on their annual recess.

“However, we have taken note of what is happening. We are on vacation now and we will take up the matter again when we resume in September,” Mohammed stated.

The face-off with Oteh started in 2012 when the House conducted an investigation into the collapse of the Nigerian Capital Market in 2009.

Although, the collapse of the market preceded Oteh’s arrival at SEC, the House said that she was not qualified to head the commission.

The probe committee, headed by Mr. Ibrahim El-Sudi, had recommended Oteh’ sacking.

Jonathan had ignored the demand of the House, while the lawmakers took the matter further by including the SEC clause in the 2013 budget.

In the course of the investigation, Oteh had accused the Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market, Mr. Herman Hembe, of allegedly asking for a bribe of N44m from the agency to assist in conducting the investigation.

Source: The Punch

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