Any Operator Who Shortchanges Investors Will Be Punished, Yuguda Warns

Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda, at the weekend said the new management team is determined to boost confidence in the Nigerian capital market and in the process attract more retail investors, thereby ensuring steady growth.

Speaking during an interview in Abuja, Yuguda said investor protection would be at the heart of any initiative by his management team, warning that any operator that short-changes investors would not go unpunished.

“We have robust rules and regulations guiding conduct in the capital market. We therefore urge operators to obey these rules, but for those that want to defraud investors, there would be no respite because we are ready to fight market manipulation and sharp practices, anyone that flouts our rules will be made to face the consequences of their actions,” he said.

Stressing the importance of retail investors, he said, they “are key to the development of the capital market in Nigeria and we want to assure investors that this market is for them and we are ready to do everything to ensure that we increase investor enlightenment through education, robust regulation and fair dealing.”

The SEC boss urged stakeholders to ensure that they operate according to laid down rules and regulations, as his management team “will not condone sharp practices in the market, we will ensure that everyone plays by the rules, as that is one of the ways we can attract these investors.

“Investors need to be protected. Once we can do that, we will be able to take our market to greater heights,” he added, even as he spoke of plans to make the market more accessible to Nigerians and even attract more investors, by making its operations as easy as possible, and in that “way we can attract investments.

Yuguda, therefore, urged investors to key into the various initiatives already rolled out by the Commission including e-dividend, regularisation of multiple accounts, Direct Cash Settlement among others in other to have the benefit of their investments.

“We are aware that some investors have left their money due to the Herculean procedures involved in getting them, hence our desire to ensure that people are able to benefit from investments, with that, we can increase investor confidence. We will look at the processes involved and streamline them to ensure that investors are able to get their money without much difficulty.

“When that happens people can be motivated to come back to the market. Unless we are able to attract people back, we cannot get the capital market that we can be proud of. We should make our local individual investors the key to succeed in our quest to rebound the market.

“Local investors don’t have anywhere to go to, and as long as they trust us, they will remain,” he stressed, restating the commission’s zero tolerance for sharp practices in the capital market.

The SEC boss recalled that the commission recently introduced a forbearance window to enable investors that bought shares with different names to regularise their accounts in order to reduce the quantum of unclaimed dividends in the capital market.

“We have told them that there is no penalty for doing so, as the SEC is not prosecuting anybody. All we want is for them to be able to get the benefits of their investments. However, many people have still not been able to claim their dividends because some of them have forgotten the names they used while others have not been able to prove to their stockbrokers that they are the owners of the shares.

“The SEC has given such shareholders amnesty to go and claim their shares and as people are claiming those shares, unclaimed dividends number will go down. On our part, we will continue to persuade investors to regularise their accounts in order to curb the problem of unclaimed dividends,” the SEC DG added.

Caption: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), led by its Director General, Lamido Yuguda (left); Executive Commissioner Corporate Services, Ibrahim Boyi; and his counterpart in charge of Operations, Dayo Obisan; listening to the Deputy Director, Home Finance Department, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ebade Atuola (right), making a point after a meeting between the SEC management and the Minister, at the weekend.