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Reps Vs SEC: Why Oteh Went On Offensive, April 02, 2012

Many Nigerians expected more revelations last week from the House of Representatives’ committee on capital market and other institutions, following the accusations two weeks ago by Ms  Arunma Oteh, the director-general of the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, the regulatory body of the nation’s stock market. The DG had alleged, that the committee demanded money from her to conduct the public hearing. But this was not to be. Instead, the leadership of the House on Tuesday, dissolved the committee and empanelled another one to continue with the public hearing. The allegations against the committee and its chairman were referred to the ethics and privileges committee of the House for investigation. The chairman of the now dissolved committee, Herman Hembe, also resigned his position as chairman of the committee.
This obviously is not the first time allegations of bribery is trailing the House of Representatives or any of its committees since the inception of the present democratic dispensation. It is however, the first time someone is pointedly accusing a committee of the House of demanding bribe from him or her. That was why the allegation elicited reactions from Nigerians.
The situation at the nation’s capital market is not a cheering one. Since 2008, investors in the market have been witnessing bearish runs. Some have lost their life savings as well with little or no assurance from the regulatory authorities that there is hope in the horizon. Though the public hearing is a welcome development but the aspersions cast on the committee did not give Nigerians hope that something good will come from the committee. 
Since the drama last week, Nigerians have been asking questions. For instance, is it true that the committee requested financial assistance from the SEC or did Ms Oteh decide to cover her track by making the allegations? Between Oteh and Hembe, who is telling the truth? Granted that the House leadership has rose to the challenge by empanelling another committee to continue with the probe, will the outcome of the new committee meet the wishes of Nigerians, especially investors in the stock market? 
This week’s cover, which was anchored by Assistant Editor, ’Tunde Babalola, examines the unrestrained slide in the stock market and the drama witnessed in the National Assembly two weeks ago.    

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