Sequel to a petition, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to embark on probe of the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mournir Haliru Gwarzo.
Gwarzo was accused of “large-scale abuse of office and gross official recklessness” in a petition to the Presidency.
The petition, by the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, received at the Presidential Villa on Saturday, centered around alleged fraud of N104 million and allegations of awarding contracts by Gwarzo to companies in which he has interests.
Copies of the petition, signed by the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, were also sent to the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara; Chairmen of Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Capital Market; Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission; Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay; and the Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit among others.
The anti-graft agency was directed to investigate if, indeed, Gwarzo paid himself N104 million severance package which, according to CACOL, is in “total disregard to the standing rule in the civil service that states that severance benefit can only be paid to an employee who has concluded his or her service and has completely disengaged from service and not to an employee who has been promoted within the Commission as is in the case of Mr. Gwarzo”.
The EFCC is also to investigate the owners of the nine companies that have been awarded contracts by the SEC under Gwarzo.
They include 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, which Gwarzo, his wife and other cronies are alleged to be using to “carry out transactions, provide services and run SEC as personal estate”.
The President equally directed the anti-graft agency to liaise with CACOL, which said it is ready to provide more documents “that may be necessary to facilitate a prompt delivery on the investigation at any point we are called upon for such assistance”.
The petition against Gwarzo reads:
ALLEGATION OF CORRUPTION AND ABUSE OF OFFICE AGAINST THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL, SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, SEC, MR MOURNIR HALIRU GWARZO
The attention of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has been drawn to a large-scale abuse of office and gross official recklessness on the part of the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Mournir Haliru Gwarzo, who by our findings, has engaged in series of anti-establishment manipulations to enrich himself through acts that are at variance with civil service rules and regulations.
As Your Excellency is perhaps aware, our organisation, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, is an aggregate of human rights, community based and civil society organisations and individuals with anti-corruption and openness in governance agenda across Nigeria.
It is a non-political, non-religious, non-sectional and non-profit making organisation. We set for ourselves the tasks of promoting accountability, openness in governance and using any available means to cause relevant authorities to probe and bring to book, corrupt leaders both in public and private institutions.
We also strive to protect interest of persons or groups found to be victims or potential victims of corrupt practices or processes of manipulation and violation of human rights.
The decision to embark on the journey was taken in 2007 in view of the need to confront, once and for all, the monster that is ravaging all facets of our national life in Nigeria – CORRUPTION.
It is in view of our avowed commitment to the fight against corruption that we have presented the perceived official excesses and acts of corruption perpetrated by Mr. Mournir Haliru Gwarzo before Your Excellency, having petitioned the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies.
On January 2, 2013, Mr. Mournir Haliru Gwarzo was appointed an Executive Commissioner in the Securities and Exchange Commission for a four-year tenure by the then administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Before the expiration of the four-year deal, Gwarzo was elevated by same government as the Director General of the Commission on May 22, 2015. But consequent upon resumption of office as the Director General of SEC, Mr. Gwarzo, ordered the payment of a severance benefit to himself to the tune of N104,851,154.94 (One hundred and four million, eight hundred and fifty one thousand, one hundred and fifty four naira and ninety-four kobo. We view this development as total disregard to the standing rule in the civil service that states that severance benefit can only be paid to an employee who has concluded his or her service and has completely disengaged from service and not to an employee who has been promoted within the Commission as is in the case of Mr. Gwarzo.
2. It is alleged that Mr Haliru Gwarzo runs SEC as his personal estate and appointed companies with links to him and some of his cronies in office to carry out transactions and provide services to the Commission. Some of the Companies listed to have links with Mr. Gwarzo, his wife and other cronies are:
1. Outbound Investment Ltd, RC NO. O. 807317
2. Medusa Investments Limited, RC NO. 326829
3. Northwind Environmental Services. REG NO BN2389176
4. Micro-Technologies LTD RC NO. 173805
5. Tida International Ltd RC NO. 26414
6. Outlook Communications
7. Acromac Nig Ltd RC NO. 10687864
8. Balfort International Investment Ltd RC NO. 109153
9. Interactiven Worldwide Nig Ltd RC NO. 779442
CACOL will want Your Excellency to direct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to look into the allegations of illegal creation of wealth from SEC by Mr. Mournir Gwarzo.
We make bold to say that the personal interest of Mr. Gwarzo in the above listed companies clearly contravenes the provisions of Nigerian law which distinctively prohibits public officers from putting themselves in situations where their personal interest conflicts with their public duties.
It is in view of these noted discrepancies that we urge Your Excellency to direct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to beam searchlights on the activities of Mr Mournir Haliru Gwarzo as the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The EFCC is in possession of all supporting documents on the above stated allegations which are at our disposal where from the above-enumerated issues were teased out. We are, however, at Your Excellency’s service or that of any of the anti-corruption agencies to provide more documents that may be necessary to facilitate a prompt delivery on the investigation at any point we are called upon for such assistance.
2. That Your Excellency should take immediate steps to constitute a Board for the Securities and Exchange Commission as provided for in the extant laws establishing the Commission. The Investment and Securities Act (ISA) 2007 which gives the Commission its current powers also made a provision for the appointment of a nine (9) member Board to be headed by a Chairman. The idea of the Board is to, amongst other things, ensure that no Director-General of the Commission can become a law onto himself or herself and act without appropriate checks by the Board.
3. Considering the high probability that a lot more atrocities may have been committed unchecked under the present circumstance in which the Securities and Exchange Commission has functioned without a Board, CACOL considers it incumbent to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to order a thorough audit of the finances of the Commission.
Please accept our esteemed regards as we look forward to Your Excellency’s decisive intervention in unearthing the issues raised here with strict compliance with the rule of law.