Shareholders accuse Oando management of deceit, insist on forensic audit

Shareholders under the aegis of the Oando Shareholders Solidarity Group (OSSG), have faulted recent claims by the management of the company that it dragged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to court to protect shareholders’ interest.

The Group described Oando’s claim as, “deceitful and a calculated attempt to stall SEC’s forensic audit,” of the embattled company.

South-South Coordinator of OSSG, Clement Ebitimi, said the present management of Oando has done more harm than good to the company and shareholders’ interest, and “do not deserve to continue in office a day longer.”

According to Ebitimi, “In their usual manner of deceiving shareholders, stakeholders and the general public, the management of Oando Nigeria Plc recently released a statement after the multiple inglorious losses at the Federal High Court in a bid to stop the imminent forensic audit. To start with, it is utterly embarrassing to have the management of a company accused of gross corporate governance misconduct and mismanagement carry on business as usual. That itself is an unacceptable display of impudence. Naturally, this management should have been sacked or resigned honourably considering the magnitude of misdemeanour in the public domain allegedly perpetuated by them.

“Contrary to the claim by the company that its recent actions were not intended to undermine the regulatory powers of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, it is clear that all actions taken so far have not only undermined the SEC; the company has also succeeded in drawing unnecessary negative attention to the Nigerian capital market. Is it not a perfect oxymoron that a company that has been accused of gross misconduct and breach of the very sacred Corporate Governance Code, for which it is now frustrating extensive audit, can claim the title of a responsible company? To start with, how can a responsible company swamp itself in so much desperation to prevent a forensic audit that can only uncover the truth?

Even the least educated creature on economic matters will discern that the management of the company is desperate to frustrate the forensic audit in order to hide something that is not yet known to the general public. Yet stakeholders and observers are united that the forensic audit is the only means to unravel the extent of mismanagement and misconduct that have been perpetuated for years.

“Let it be placed on record that the current management of Oando Nigeria Plc led by Wale Tinubu is not in any way protecting the interest of shareholders; both majority and minority. All shareholders of the company are angry, and frustratingly tired of this management that even the word disappointment cannot describe the discontent of shareholders. How can you claim to be protecting the interest of shareholders when you have consistently mismanaged the affairs of the company to the extent that the external auditors will cast a doubt on the going concern of the company?

“Majority shareholders are unhappy; minority shareholders are bewildered, so which shareholders’ interest are you protecting if not yours?”

The OSSG Coordinator also said that SEC must proceed with, and concluded the forensic audit started under its past Director-General to restore confidence in the capital market.

He said Oando has deliberately distorted the preliminary report of the committee that unravelled the malfeasance in the company. “Contrary to what the management of the company wants the public to believe, there is nowhere in the report that suggests or explicitly states that Oando Nigeria Plc satisfactorily responded to all issues raised in the investigation of its affairs. Rather, the report clearly corroborates the earlier statement from the SEC suspending trading of the company’s shares on the stock exchange for breach of the SEC Code of Corporate Governance. These are violation of different sections of the SEC Code of Corporate Governance; breach of ISA 2007; misstatements in the 2013 and 2014 audited financial statement of Oando Plc; and breach of ISA on misleading information contained in Oando Plc’s Rights Issue Circular. Others include breach of SEC Rules and Regulations on payment of dividends; independent auditor’s report expressing doubt over Oando’s existence as a going concern; suspected insider dealings; related party transactions; declaration of dividends from unrealised profits; and discrepancies in the company’s shareholding structure.

“The report in question is in the public domain and accessible to every concerned stakeholder. This is obviously a deliberate move to twist the facts in the public domain and no responsible corporate organisation should be associated with such acts,” Ebitimi added.