John Ameh, Abuja
A sub-committee of the House of Representatives on Capital Market and Institutions on Thursday asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to take over Capital Oil Plc for allegedly defrauding shareholders of more than N5bn.
The committee, which is chaired by a lawmaker from Lagos State, Mr Tony Nwulu, is investigating the level of compliance with operational and regulatory requirements by publicly-quoted companies in the country.
Speaking at the committee’s hearing at the National Assembly in Abuja, Nwulu said the panel had information detailing “shocking revelations” on how successive management teams of Capital Oil had allegedly mismanaged shareholders’ funds.
He said SEC must sanction the company and other firms involved in insider abuses to serve as a deterrent.
“We are extending this warning to all the publicly-quoted companies in Nigeria. Wherever we see incompetence, we will expose them and ensure that SEC takes them over and where forensic audit needs to be done, we will make sure that it is carried out,” Nwulu stated.
Commenting specifically on the situation in Capital Oil, the chairman added, “We are mandating SEC to take over the management of Capital Oil. We will invite SEC to come and tell us what they know about what has become of Capital Oil.
“We will be inviting all the past management of Capital Oil Plc to come and explain how come a company that Nigerians invested their hard-earned money in can just go this way without explanations.”
Nwulu told the session that the House would follow the matter to a logical conclusion by ensuring that those who committed the abuses would be punished.
Besides the abuse of shareholders’ funds, the committee also found out that the company was in tax deficit of over N70m.
Nwulu said, “We are not going to back down, no matter how highly-placed they are. It is disheartening that a Plc can go down without any explanation being made to Nigerians.
“Anybody who played a part in this has explanation to make to Nigerians. It is pathetic to look at Nigerians in the face and tell them that their hard-earned money is gone.
“All those who are guilty will make account. That is what we are telling Nigerians. We assure them that justice must be served.”
Among former top officials of Capital Oil that the committee said would appear to testify are former managing directors, Dr Tunji Sobodu and Mr Ayo Fanimokun; Executive Director, Finance, Mr Enoor Osubele; and Mr Jerome Ikhine.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has blamed the jinxed on the dredging of the River Niger on the activities of cartels with vested interests.
He said the cartels had vowed never to allow the dredging see the light of day so long as the project would not address their interests.
Dogara spoke in Abuja when he granted audience to the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority, Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora, at the National Assembly on Thursday.
The Speaker informed his guest that since 2015, he had personally intervened to see to the successful implementation of the National Transport Master Plan to no avail.
Recalling his role in the past soon after the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo initiated the plan, Dogara stated, “I was part of the development of the National Transportation Master Plan. I don’t know what has happened to it.
“How I wished we implemented that plan; by now, we would have gone very far because the master plan’s vision is a seamless integration of multi-modal transportation into one hub.”
Mamora urged the National Assembly to give legislative backing to his agency so that it would succeed in delivering on its core mandate.