ARUNMA OTEH SPENT N200 MILLION ON HOTEL BILLS, GROUP ALLEGES.

FRESH allegations of financial profligacy were levelled against the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh, at the weekend.

Besides, she was accused of incompetence in the administration of the commission.

The allegations were levelled in a petition written to the Finance Minister, Olusegun Aganga, and copied to President Goodluck Jonathan by a group of workers of the commission, represented by one Mr. Kola Ogba.

But, SEC dismissed the allegations yesterday.

Copies of the petition were also sent to the Senate President, Speaker, House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chairman, Senate Committee on Capital Market, Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market and Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

“Six months after her appointment, she is still living in Transcorp Hilton Hotel, with SEC paying close to N140,000 every night. SEC must have paid over N200 million to Transcorp since she assumed office,” the workers wrote.

They challenged the minister, who controls SEC, to ask for the records, if in doubt.

They accused Ms. Oteh of squandering over N200 million on hotel accommodation since her appointment as the DG earlier in the year.

According to copies of the NICON Hilton Hotel receipts attached to the petition, the SEC boss has been living in Room 1026 in the five-star hotel since she was appointed and was still there as at last week.

Besides, the workers lamented the alleged frequent overseas trips by the DG made on Business Class, “whereas even a minister travels officially in Economic Class”.

They added: “Last week, she was in the U.S., now, she is in Canada with almost 20 people, who are not even staff members of SEC, on a jamboree. She went with all sorts of people, including corps members and others. This is a woman who cannot even address any current issue in SEC.”

Besides Ms Otteh, the petitioners also accused the Chairman of SEC Board, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, of conniving with the DG to milk the commission dry by also taking a permanent office at SEC, when he was appointed only on a part-time basis.

The petition further reads in part: “Her intention and that of the Chairman, Senator Udoma, is to milk the commission dry. In any case, why should you the Minister of Finance be collaborating with her on all these trips by approving a whooping N100 million for a single trip with almost 20 people?

“Why should the chairman, who is on a part-time appointment, maintain a full office in SEC with full compliment of staff? Why should SEC allow this to happen? Part-time chairmen of other parastatals only come for board and committee meetings. In his (Udoma) case, he is all over the place working like a SEC Executive, leading delegations to Brazil, Malaysia, US and Canada, all at the expense of SEC”.

The staff members also accused their boss of indifference to their plight by refusing to support their agitation for a pay rise, but leaving them at the mercy of the National Salaries and Wages Commission.

The petitioners added: “The woman and the chairman are here to loot the commission. The two of them keep boasting to other board members that they have connections in high places, up to the Presidency and that this is their time to make money.

“What of the funny and inexperienced people she brought with her from Tunisia without cognate experience like her and are now directors? As the minister in charge, did you approve these appointments? Who interviewed them and placed them on special scales?

“Is there not supposed to be an embargo on appointments? Why not promote from within with capable people marking time as deputy directors?

“The accounting system is in shambles. All sorts of payments are made. Consultants that do no significant work are paid hefty sums of money. Did the board of ministers approve all these?”

The group claimed that their other colleagues in the commission are demotivated and now lack interest in the job, adding: “The capital market is not moving. Unlike the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) where, at least, you see some actions, nothing is happening here (SEC). We all gather everyday to discuss the affairs and nothing is happening.

“The little gains achieved late last year in the capital market is being fast eroded, as there is so much uncertainty and lack of direction.

Unless an urgent action is taken by the government, SEC will come to nothing. Please, investigate all these clams so that we can move forward.”

But, SEC through its spokesman, Lanre Oloyi, dismissed the petition with a wave of the hand, saying it had been written since June, this year.

He describing the petitioners as faceless liars.

“There is no truth in the matter,” he added.

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