By James Emejo

 


There was a mild protest Tuesday at the premises of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as workers under the aegis of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), SEC branch, kicked against a query issued  to the union’s chairman, Muhammed Salihu and the Secretary, John Briggs by the management.

SEC Director-General, Ms Arunma Oteh

The alleged query, THISDAY gathered, had questioned Salihu’s involvement in an earlier letter by the union to the management, accusing the Director-General, Ms Arunma Oteh, of dishonouring rules for engagement of 15 contract staff members.

The query, which was signed by the Head of Department, Human Resources in the commission, Husseini Dauda, described Salihu’s participation in the union’s correspondence as being “tantamount to unbridled insubordination to the constituted authority within the commission.”

But the union said it had only advised the DG to use her good office to rectify issues bordering on “her employment of contract staff against the directive of the former Board of the commission.”

The union’s letter to the management, a copy which was made available to journalists, read in part: “It is on record that the Board extract of 56 Board meeting directed that if by July 31, 2012 the contract staff of the commission was not regularised, their appointment should be terminated. This directive has not been complied with; rather a counter directive was given by the DG to the finance and account department to pay up their remuneration up to August 2012 without any directive suppressing the earlier directive of the board.”

It said: “Mr Omotayo who is one of the un-regularised staff, who once served as a technical adviser to the DG was redeployed to head the Internal Control Department. This in our opinion creates a morale issue as Omotayo by virtue of his former position would not constitute a sufficient check to executive or administrative excesses. His redeployment should therefore, be checked.”

The union alleged that instead of heeding to their advice, the management resorted to issuing queries to the leadership of the union.

The aggrieved workers staged their protest within the premises of the commission chanting “Oteh must go!!!”
Some of their placards carried inscriptions such as “No to sole administrator-ship,” “No to tyranny and highhandedness.”

 

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by Ihuoma Chiedozie, Abuja

 


The anticipated arraignment of two members of the House of Representatives, Herman Hembe and Ifeanyi Azubuogu, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before a Federal High Court, Abuja, was stalled amid drama on Thursday.

The development was due to a number of factors, including Azubuogu’s absence from the court, as well as a motion by the accused persons challenging the jurisdiction of the court granting leave to the EFCC to try them.

Also, the lawyers told the court that they were served with the opposing party’s motion on Wednesday, and that they had not had enough time to respond.

The development prompted, Justice Abubakar Umar, to adjourn till May 28.

Hembe and Azubuogu were until recently, the chairman and deputy chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Institutions, respectively.

They were in charge of the probe of the near collapse of the capital market until a bribery allegation brought against them by the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arunma Oteh, led to their ouster.

However, the planned arraignment turned into a drama on Thursday.

At the commencement of the sitting, counsel for Azubuogu, the second accused person, Emeka Etiaba, informed the court that his client was not present in court.

Etiaba told the court that Azubuogu travelled to Nnewi, Anambra State, as a result of the kidnap of a relative.

He went ahead to inform the court that he had filed a preliminary objection challenging the leave granted to the EFCC to arraign the lawmakers.

The defence counsel maintained that the proof of evidence filed by the EFCC did not disclose that any crime was committed by his client and questioned the proprietary of the leave granted by the court.

However, the judge frowned on Azubuogu’s absence, noting that it was shameful for a lawmaker to disrespect the law.

Umar said, “The accused is not here and decided to travel to wherever.

“It is a shame if a lawmaker chooses not to respect the law.”

The drama continued as Hembe’s counsel, Jibrin Okutepa, also toed the line threaded by Etiaba by informing the court that he had filed a preliminary objection to the charge preferred against his client on the ground that the proof of evidence before the court did not disclose any prima facie case against him.

Thereafter, a heated argument ensued between Okutepa and EFCC counsel, Mr. O. Uket, who insisted that Hembe must enter the dock, a move which was spiritedly opposed by the defence counsel, who said his client could not be put in the dock.

After Hembe refused to enter the dock on the prompting of his counsel, the judge asked him to stand up to indicate his presence in the courtroom.

Hembe stood up, and the judge further directed that he should come and stand at the front of the court.

Okutepa argued that Hembe should not enter the dock because he was challenging the jurisdiction of the court to grant leave to the EFCC to prefer criminal charges against (Hembe).

The EFCC counsel argued that the issue of jurisdiction should be determined after the accused persons had taken their plea, an argument which was opposed by the defence counsel.

After listening to all the submissions, the judge ruled that it was premature to dock Hembe, saying the issue of jurisdiction should be determined before the EFCC could arraign the accused persons.

 

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