By Stephen Ubanna
Until last March, nobody knew that OANDO, One of the leading Petroleum Marketing Companies listed in the Capital Market, by the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, announced a 2019, was under investigation by the Commission that may soon be exposed .
Indeed, the Wale Tinubu, a brother of Ahmed Bola Tinubu a former governor of Lagos state and National leader of the All Progressive Congress, APC, and political ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, has played into the hand of SEC officials. It was a matter of time before the sledge hammer would fall on him and other Directors of the Company.
Note that the Tinubu led OANDO Board of Directors had announced a profit N4.6 billion in its trading results between January and March, 2019. The superlative performance enthused the Company Shareholders who gave them the nod to continue . and The Capital Market regulatory Commission officials were also encouraged by the trading result that it urged other trading Companies to step up their trading to improve on their profit making.
Unknown to many , the Tinubu led Petroleum Marketing Company had been under Investigation over its activities since since 2017, over alleged infractions and it was a matter of time for the bubble to burst and the culprits exposed.
Trouble was said to have started for the Company , with the two petitions allegedly forwarded to SEC , by aggrieved Staff in 2017, over the illegal activities of the Company ranging from false disclosure of trading activities, market abuses, misstatements in financial statements, internal control failures, and Corporate governance lapses. T he Company Board , had been accused of poor oversight , irregular approval of Directors remuneration, unjustified disbursement to Directors and management of the Company and related transactions which were conducted secretly.
Acting on the petitions, the Commission was said to have engaged the services of Deloitte and Touche, a reputable Audit firm to carry out a forensic Audit of the Company. The Value News learnt there were attempts to penetrate the ranks of theAuditing the firm but no luck as the external Auditors did their work as it ought to be done. The report of the External Auditors was not different from the allegations of the petitioners as they found that there was noticeable infractions in the running of the Company by the Tunubu led Management Team and Board of Directors.
Angered by the report of the External Auditors, SEC, has no option by apply the sledge hammer on Tinubu, the Group Chief Executive officer and Omamofe Boyo, the Company Group Chief Executive Officer.
A Statement by the Commission on Friday , May 31, 2019, confirmed the suspension of Tinubu, the Company Chief Executive Officer and Boyo, the Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer and from being Directors of the Company and other publicly quoted Companies for five tears. This is bad news for the leading Boardroom politician to be sent packing by SEC. The former OANDO pc troubles with SEC, may have informed why he was visibly absent at the Katsina state born Nigerian President inauguration on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, an event that was attended by Aliko Dangote, a multi-billionaire business mogul and President , Dangote Group of Companies , Femi Otedola, another notable Board politician , among others.
Trouble may not be over yet for the Company as the Commission was said to have also taken other far reaching decisions against the trading Petroleum Products trading Outfit which include forcing the suspended Directors to resign from the Company’s Board and equally ordered it to convene an ”extra -ordinary general meeting, AGM, on or before July 1, 2019, to appoint new Directors to replace the sacked ones. This is in addition to forcing the Company to pay monetary befits the aggrieve Staff and Directors who had opened up on the Company .
Capital Market watchers believe that the suspension of the OANDO Directors have sent a signal to other Chief Executives of publicly quoted Companies listed in the Capital Market that SEC officials are watching their activities and could descend on them at anytime if found wanting.
Malam Shehu Mikail, National President, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, is optimistic that the action taken by SEC against OANDO plc, would go a long way to instill ”transparency and good Corporate governance in the nation’s Capital Market.
An aggrieve Mikail disclosed that many quoted Companies had collapsed over the years due to ”lack of transparency and good Corporate governance. H e gave kudos to the Commission, urging it to go all out and deal with other quoted Companies Chief Executive Officers who had committed the same offence and even worse in the respective Companies and deal with them to bring sanity in the nation’s Capital market.
Ambrose Omordion, Chief Executive officer, Invest Data ltd , who could not hide his feelings reportedly said that the outcome of the forensic Audit of the OANDO plc , and the actions taken by the Commission was an indication that ” it could no bark but bite”.
Omordion is right as fear appears to have gripped the Chief Executive officers of most of the listed Companies in the Capital Market that they may go the same way as Tinubu, the OANDO plc boss and his Deputy Group Chief Executive officer.
Recall that in taking the tough decisions against Oando plc, and their two key officials, SEC officials had said that the implementation of the dircetives and introduction of some remedial measures about the running of quoted Companies, unwholesome practices by some public quoted Companies Directors would be significantly reduced to the barest minimum.
Note that it has been the intention of President Buhari, to build strong institutions that could do their job without looking back . It is not surprising why the Commission has enjoined Board of Directors of listed Companies in the Capital Market to properly perform their statutory duties as required under extant securities laws to avoid running into troubles.
But the OANDO plc management would not agree with SEC decision against its two major Directors as it has vowed” to take all the legal steps to protect its business and assets” to avoid being rubbished by the SEC induced forensic Audit report on the Company.
The Company insists that the alleged infractions leveled against it and the penalties it was asked to pay to the aggrieved parties was instantiated. The major worry of the trading Company was that ”it was not given any opportunity to see, review and respond to the forensic Audit Report carried out the Accounting firm, Delitte and Touche”.
There are fears in Capital Market circles that the SEC induced Forensic Audit Report on the Energy Company might affect the sale of its shares in the market. Note that OANDO plc is one of the Blue Chip Companies, which shares are constantly sought for in the Capital Market . Many believe that it belong to the same class as the United Bank For Africa, UBA, one of the leading Commercial Banks in Africa among others.