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UPDATED: Oando audit in ‘doubt’ as Emir Sanusi brokers peace

A key shareholder of Nigeria’s indigenous oil and gas firm, Oando Plc, has withdrawn his petition to the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, following a peace deal with the oil firm’s chief executive officer, Wale Tinubu.

The decision has put in doubt the possibility of a proposed forensic audit of the company going forward.

Dahiru Mangal, a shareholder of the company in 2017 petitioned the SEC accusing management of the oil firm of gross misconduct.

Oando, in one of its responses to the petition had alleged that a proportion of shares owned by Mr. Mangal was acquired as a result of market manipulation and insider trading activities.

But the petition, together with another from Andsbury Plc, prompted the regulatory agency to suspend the shares of the company on the Nigerian bourse. SEC also ordered a forensic audit into the operations of the oil firm.

PREMIUM TIMES has since learnt that the former SEC director general, Mounir Gwarzo, was fired by the finance ministry to thwart the audit.

The new SEC management has yet to go ahead with the audit.
For weeks, officials have failed to explain to PREMIUM TIMES why the audit is still on hold.

A notice posted to the Nigerian bourse on Monday, however, said that a ‘peace deal’ had been arrived at between Mr. Mangal and Mr. Tinubu following the intervention of the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi.

The notice, signed by Oando’s Chief Compliance Officer/Company Secretary, Ayotola Jagun, and its Head of Corporate Communications unit, Alero Balogun, said the company has been officially notified by Mr. Mangal that he is a substantial shareholder in the Company.

“In accordance with the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap. C20 LFN 2004 (‘CAMA’) an individual or entity with direct / beneficial share ownership over 10% constitutes a substantial shareholder in the Company,” the notice said.

“In addition to confirming his status as a substantial shareholder, all the issues raised by Alhaji Mangal in his petition to the Securities and Exchange Commission (‘SEC’) have been successfully addressed and clarified by the Company.”

The Company, the notice disclosed, has always encouraged oversight over its affairs by all shareholders.

According to the statement, Oando PLC’s Group Chief Executive, Wale Tinubu said: “I am pleased we have reached an amicable agreement with Alhaji Dahiru Mangal and have satisfactorily addressed the concerns he raised in his petition to the SEC. We encourage him to exercise his rights as a shareholder and be more involved in oversight of the affairs of the Company. Shareholders must be confident in the operations of the company they are invested in; this can only occur through active participation.’’

Also commenting, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi said the development of the Nigerian economy is hinged on local participation, which makes it imperative for Nigerians to encourage indigenous participation.

“I have watched Wale Tinubu from his days in Ocean and Oil and I am extremely proud of his growth and the company he has built,” he was quoted to have said.

“Oando is proudly a Nigerian company whose impact has been positively felt by every Nigerian. The Company is evidence of the progress we have made from an IOC led sector to one that is thriving with a mix of indigenous and international players.

“I call on Alhaji Mangal and Wale Tinubu to see themselves as partners focused on achieving one goal; attainable only if they have confidence and trust in one another. It is my belief that they have put the past behind them and are looking forward to working together to create greater success stories. As Nigerians we must protect our local industries and ultimately the development of this great nation and so I am excited by what this means for the company and Nigeria as a whole.’’

On his part, Mr. Mangal was quoted to have withdrawn his petition to the SEC, saying that he had agreed to the peace accord.

He said, “I invested in Oando because I could see its potential. It is therefore with excitement that I concur to this Peace Accord signifying the renewal of our relationship; one that gives me more insight into the Company’s operations and aspirations and involves more dialogue.

“I am confident in the Company’s leadership
team and trust that with the right support it will continue to grow from strength to strength, returning real value to all its shareholders including my good self.’’

The notice added that subject to the provisions of the SEC Code, Companies and Allied Matters Act (‘CAMA’) and Oando’s Board Appointment Process, Oando’s Board of Directors will consider the appointment of representation for Mr. Mangal to the Board.

“The representation will take the form of Directorship from qualified individuals nominated by Alhaji Mangal. All Directors have a fiduciary duty to always act in the best interest of the Company and its stakeholders,” the notice said.

With the new development, it is not immediately clear what becomes of SEC’s proposed effort to conduct a forensic audit on Oando.

PREMIUM TIMES’ efforts to reach the regulatory agency Monday afternoon were unsuccessful.

The acting DG of SEC, Abdul Zubair, and the commission’s director of external relations, Henry Roland, told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday that they were out of the country and could not immediately comment.
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