Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, has defended the decision to suspend Mounir Gwarzo as director-general of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Adeosun had set up an administrative panel to look into some allegations levelled against Gwarzo.
The panel had recommended his suspension, which the minister upheld.
But Gwarzo attributed the action to his refusal to stop the forensic audit of Oando in line with the directive of the minister.
“The minister asked me to stop the forensic audit of Oando and that I should constitute a committee comprising the head of legal of SEC, that of the ministry and that of Oando,” Gwarzo had said at a public hearing organised by the house committee on capital market.
Describing Gwarzo’s allegation as “laughable”, Adeosun said he was punished because he acted outside the public service rules.
“As we speak, the forensic audit is still going on. So, it is mischievous to even suggest that, that led to his suspension,” she said.
“Mr Mounir was called and given a right of audience. We believe that our decision to suspend Mr Mounir was just. We cannot have somebody at the helm of affairs and it is only when the EFCC arrest them that they can be removed. That’s not fair.
“Such is not good for Nigeria. We don’t have to wait for officials to be paraded in handcuffs before we take action.
“Mounir should face the allegations against him which were the only reasons why he was suspended.”
Adeosun said the allegations against Mounir were “very serious” and contrary to the principle “fit and proper” in the capital market.
She added: “Mounir said he resigned from Medusah Investments in 2012, we obtained documents from CAC showing him to still be a major shareholder and a director in the company, which contradicts public service rules, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission Act.
“In the second company, Outband Investments, where he claimed that he was representing his wife, that it is his wife’s family’s company. The public service rules does not provide for that and more importantly, that company has transacted with us. So there is a conflict of interest.”
The minister said the standard in the capital market is “very high” and “when we are taking disciplinary actions, we must be seen to be above reproach or else those actions will be questioned.”
She also said: “The company in contention (Oando) was alleging that the person investigating them was not a fit and proper person and felt that his actions were coloured. That suspicion needed to be removed.
“At the same time, we were receiving information from the staff of SEC that documents were being removed. And we knew we needed to do a thorough investigation which cannot be done with Mounir still at the helm of affairs.
“Mounir has not been removed, he was suspended. And he is not the first DG of SEC to be suspended.”
The hearing chaired by Tajudeen Yusuf, chairman of the committee, was attended by both staff of the finance ministry and SEC.