By Etuka Sunday
Hearing in the five-count charge bordering on fraud brought by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) against Mounir Gwarzo, the suspended Director-General (DG) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was on Thursday adjourned to September 20 and 21, for further hearing, SEC in a statement has said.
The statement said, adjournment of the suit brought against Gwarzo before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the FCT High Court Maitama, was at the instance of the prosecution.
It said, while being led in evidence by Prosecution Counsel, Adesina Raheem, Ajao Akintade, second Prosecution Witness in the trial, admitted that Gwarzo collected a car grant of N49,425,700 as an Executive Commissioner in SEC, and was paid another N84.388million as DG.
He said that although SEC’s Human Resources Department initially computed the sum of N73, 405,397.12 as the grant receivable by the DG. He wrote a memo for the purpose, dated June 1, 2015, which was however rejected by the second Defendant, necessitating his writing another on the following day, conveying the new amount, which was paid to the DG.
While being cross examined by Gwarzo’s counsel, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN), the witness said the first defendant held different positions as Executive Commissioner and DG, and that the terms and conditions of both offices were different.
He admitted that as an Executive Commissioner, Gwarzo was entitled to the items listed for the office by the board resolution.
“It is correct that anybody holding the office of DG is also entitled to the items listed for the office,” he stressed, recalling that he wrote the June 2, 2015 memo based on the board’s resolution, which had been tendered by the Prosecution as Exhibit before the court.
According to him, no Executive Commissioner had been denied from benefiting the monetised vehicle policy since it was introduced, adding that past DGs had also benefited from the policy.
The witness told the court that some of the beneficiary DGs even retired before the three-year window provided, saying that when they retired, none of them made any refund of the grant they collected.
He confirmed that a former Head, Human Resources Management of SEC, Mrs Mary Ekpo, retired before the three-year period but she did not refund the grant, because she was not asked to do so.
In the suit, the ICPC is accusing Gwarzo, who was granted bail at the June 5, 2018 hearing, of committing fraud to the tune of about N115 million in June 2015, when he was SEC Director-General.
It also alleged that the suspended DG received the sum of N104,851,154.94 as severance benefits when he was yet to retire, resign or disengage from the service of SEC.
It further alleged that Gwarzo conferred a corrupt advantage upon himself when he received the sum of N10,983,488.88 in excess of car grant payable to him.
Akintade said the monetised car grant collected by Gwarzo was in compliance with the resolution of the SEC Board, which was based on the then market value of a new vehicle. The grant, he added, was given every three years and non-refundable.