Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun

Strong indications emerged that the decision of the Federal Government to suspend the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission SEC, apex regulator for the nation’s stock market, Mr. Mounir Gwarzo and two other directors may not be unconnected with the DG’s decision to collect his severance package while still in service.

Gwarzo was alleged to have paid himself a total of N104 million severance package when he was appointed DG SEC few years ago from the former position of a director within the same commission, which is in contradiction of provisions of the Civil Service Rule.

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun had said that the suspension was due to allegations of financial misappropriation levelled against him.

In a statement signed on behalf of the Minister by the Deputy Director of Information of the ministry, Mrs. Patricia Deworitshe in Abuja on Wednesday, Mrs. Adeosun said that the suspension was to allow unhindered investigation into the several allegations of financial impropriety levelled against the embattled DG.

It was also gathered that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, has already commenced investigation into the various allegations levelled against the DG and two other directors of the commission.

According to the Minister, the other two suspended directors include Head of Media Division, Mr. Abdulsalam Naif Habu and Head of Legal Department, Mrs. Anastasia Braimoh.

The statement reads in part: “The suspension is in line with the Public Service Rules (PSRs) 03405 and 03406. “The Minister has set up an Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API) to investigate and determine the culpability of the Director-General. “She has directed the suspended SEC Director-General to immediately handover to the most senior officer at the Commission, pending the conclusion of investigation by the API”.

“The DG allegedly paid himself N104 million severance package when he was appointed DG of the commission from his former position of a Director in the same organisation. This is not acceptable because it in total disregard to the standing rule in the civil service which states that severance benefit can only be paid to an employee who has concluded his or her service or has completely disengaged from service”.

The Minister further argued that since Gwarzo was promoted within the same commission to become a Director-general, the service rule says that he’s not yet entitled to a severance package, which is part of the issues to be investigated by the committee.

It was further gathered that the EFCC is also investigating the owners of the nine companies that were awarded contracts by the commission under the embattled DG, which Outbound Investment Limited, Medusa Investments Limited, Northwind Environmental Services, Micro-Technologies Limited, Tida International Limited, Outlook Communications, Acromac Nigeria Limited, Balfort International Investment Limited and Interactiven Worldwide Nigeria Limited.

The News Agency of Nigeria NAN quoted the EFCC as saying that Gwarzo, his wife and other cronies allegedly used these companies to carry out illegal transactions in the organisation during his tenure as DG.

No time limit was given for the panel to complete its work and until the issues are properly investigated both by the EFCC and the Ministry’s Administrative Panel of Inquiry , the  DG and two other directors will remain suspended.