By Chinwendu Obienyi
Strong indications emerged yesterday that the Federal Government may have finally taken over the management of the Unclaimed Dividend Trust Fund after years of back and forth as the Securities and Exchange (SEC) admiting it now manages the Fund alongside the Debt Management Office, contrary to Nigerian shareholders position.
The development confirms Nigerian shareholders fears and opposition in 2020 to the establishment of UDTF proposed to address the growing rate of unclaimed dividend presently estimated at N200 billion.
They had then argued that the SEC was colluding with the government to control the fund for their use which will eventually end up beingmisappropriated.
Today however, the shareholders fears seems to have been justified as the SEC boss Lamido Yuguda attempted to explain was the Commission’s involvement with the UDTF.
“Unclaimed dividends have now gone into a new trust fund (UDTF) that is now managed by the DMO and so the SEC is not the only agency overseeing the UDTF. We still have cases of multiple subscriptions but we are working very hard on solutions to tackle them especially in the area of unclaimed dividends. This is why we are encouraging those who have yet to claim their dividends to do so”He said.
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Yuguda further revealed that an automated process of the Electronic Dividend Mandate Management System (E-DMMS) would be complete by the end of the third quarter (Q3) of 2022.
But while reacting to the development, shareholders who spoke to Daily Sun via telephone, noted that the SEC had probably misappropriated the huge dividend and has successfully failed to protect their interest.They called on the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) and the Ministry of Finance to immediately commence the process of probing the SEC.
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National Coordinator, Progressive Association of Nigeria (PSAN), Boniface Okezie, said the Commission had been playing pranks all these while adding that the National Assembly are culprits of the ongoing situation.
His words, “This money clearly belongs to us and not the government or even the SEC. Regulators are now competing with operators and if you say you are embarking on investor protection programs and people are rightly calling for their money and these dividends are not getting to the registrars to give these investors their unclaimed dividend, then something is or has clearly been wrong from the start.