SEC Witch-hunting Oando, Wants Its Downfall—Shareholders

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By Dipo Olowookere

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been accused of making ‘deliberate’ efforts to frustrate Oando Plc and possibly get it out of business.

These accusations were made on Wednesday by some minority shareholders of the energy firm at a news briefing held in Lagos to frown at the decision of SEC to cancel the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the company earlier scheduled for Tuesday, June 11, 2019 in the metropolis.

Addressing journalists at the press conference, the shareholders wondered what special interest the apex capital market regulator has in Oando and why it allegedly wants the ‘downfall’ of the firm.

They therefore, called on the Nigerian authorities to prevail on the management of SEC to be fair in its dealings, especially with Oando and let the company be so as not to chase investors away, which could affect the economy.

They described Oando as the only prospering indigenous oil company operating in Nigeria and should not be frustrated out of business because its downfall will definitely not be a loss to the regulator, but shareholders of the company, who have invested their hard earned money in the firm.

“As shareholders, we call on our President, Vice President and members of National Assembly to call the management of SEC, who has been operating without a board in the past four years, to order.

“They need to do this now to save the only prospering indigenous oil company, its enduring shareholders, the capital market and the nation from the erosion of confidence in the capital market and the economy at large,” one of the shareholders of Oando Plc, Mr Patrick Ajudua, said.

Speaking with newsmen at the event, Secretary General of Association for Investors’ Liberation, Mr Hamza Ridhwan, condemned in “absolute terms the way and manner chosen by SEC in announcing the cancellation on the eve of the event, despite having ample time to do same.”

According to him, “We have shareholders who have come in from all over the country, and it’s disappointing and disheartening to think that SEC didn’t think it worthy to consider us, the esteemed shareholders, when determining when to notify the general public on the suspension of the AGM.”

“What kind of regulator disregards the shareholders it is supposed to protect like this? We ask why the AGM was suspended. Why was it done at such short time?” he queried, challenging SEC to “tell us how this last-minute suspension of the AGM is in our best interest.”

Mr Ridhwan further said, “We find the current action of SEC even more alarming, especially after Oando made N180 billion in losses and has reversed this to two consecutive years of profit. Profits that fill us with hope that dividends will be paid soon.”

“We fully support the regulator and applaud the government for institutions such as SEC as we know the imperative role they play in regulating and protecting the capital market.

“However, in the case of Oando, we are not convinced that SEC has acted in our best interest or protected our investments. We call on the government to intervene,” he posited.

Another shareholder, Comrade Lawrence Oguntoye, who is the President of Distinct Shareholders Association, argued that SEC’s action against the valid Oando AGM was an injustice and infringement on the rights of the shareholders.

“Most shareholders who came from very far states were disgraced and highly disappointed at venue. SEC ought to have considered the minority shareholders if truly it is protecting our interest, but it seems there is a skeleton in SEC’s cupboard apart from this forensic report.

“This is not fair considering the fact that shareholders’ funds have been eroded today, share price has dropped drastically, not to talk of negative state of mind of investors,” he said.

Business Post reports that on Monday, SEC announced the suspension of the Oando AGM, citing a suit instituted by the company as the basis for its action.

“The Securities & Exchange Commission (the Commission) hereby notifies the public that further to the Ex-parte Order of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos in SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/910/19 IN MR. JUBRIL ADEWALE TINUBU & ANOR V SECURITIES & EXCHANGE COMMISSION & ANOR, the Annual General Meeting of Oando Plc (a company listed on the Nigerian and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges) scheduled to hold at the Zinnia Hall, Eko Hotels and Suites, Plot 1415, Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 10: 00am has been suspended till further notice.

“Accordingly, the commission has directed the suspension of the Annual General Meeting of Oando Plc to allow the parties maintain status quo,” it had said.

However, Oando, in a statement, disagreed with the SEC action, saying it would take every legal step to protest its business and shareholders.

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