By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and other Institutions yesterday summoned nine (9) insurance companies across the country who have failed to respond to queries over series of infractions and shareholders’ funds leveled against them.
This was even as the Lower Chamber committee threatened to expose the shady practices that have been going in the insurance companies.
They are: Niger Insurance, International Energy Insurance, Guinea Insurance, Universal Insurance Company Plc, Law Union & Rock Insurance, Real Exchange Plc, Continental Re-Insurance, Cornerstone Insurance and Sovereign Trust Insurance Company.
Tony Nwulu, deputy chairman, of the Committee issued the summon at the investigative public hearing on the “level of compliance with operational and regulatory requirements.”
He lamented that the intervention of the House became necessary because “Insurance industry is ailing seriously,” considering the recent call for recapitalization and the need to protect shareholders funds, among other issues.
The Committee also mandated all the Insurance companies operating in the country to summit their Management reports or face the wrath of the law.
He disclosed that the committee will no longer grant any form of reprieve for any erring Insurance company going forward.
“None of you should make any attempt to reach me, I will not listen to you. Everything about Insurance sector will be done publicly.
“Those that are unfit to remain in business, we should know, shareholders should understand what has happened and move forward,” Nwulu stressed.
According to the Committee, a number of Managing Directors of the Insurance firms and consultants engaged by the Committee had raised concerns over various operational challenges endemic in the industry.
He maintained that most of the Insurance companies that fail to make available the Management report will be handled with according to the extant regulations and law of the land.
Nwulu noted that the committee has the constitutional responsibility to ensure safety of shareholders’ funds in the industry as well as the capital market.
He noted that the investigative public hearing would not have been necessary if the operators have yielded to clarion calls and advice offered by the Legislative arm.
The lawmaker also harped on the need to look at the consolidation issues affecting the industry, stressing that the time is ripe to rid the industry of infractions and insider abuses.
In his intervention, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP-Abia) who urged the Committee to uphold the oath of office to expose corruption and wastages as encapsulated by sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), decried the level of impunity in the industry.
“I see a lot of inside trading, personal interest of directors, if we don’t canvass it openly, what we are trying to protect are already in the public. So when it becomes speculations, it becomes more dangerous,” Nkem-Abonta said.
According to Nkem-Abonta, the investigative public hearing was aimed at determining publicly the veracity of the infractions or otherwise, adding that breaching various statutory requirements to publish annual report and paying taxes cannot be condoned or conceal by the Parliament.
He argued that evading those constitutional and regulatory requirements cannot be done as a private hearing, so we must publicly do so.
Speaking earlier, Nuhu Dambarrau, member of the Committee had urged the Committee to give the absentees another opportunity to spear before the committee to defend the allegations.
One of the representatives of the Insurance companies, noted that most of the insurance companies are not aware of most of the issues raised, adding that the National Insurance Association (NIA) had been mandated to represent the operators.
In his remarks, Samuel Olaniyi of Regency Alliance Insurance told the Committee that from the industry side there are some self-regulatory measures put in place.
On his part, Nwulu disclosed that “some of your members have also indicted the Association of not representing them some insurance companies believed that some are being favoured against others. I have received several petitions on various issues.
“It was your association that brought you into all these issues,” adding that, no responsible organised industry will be hiding under the guise of a pressure group to condone impunity.
The Committee also threatened to arrest NIA representative if he attempt to mislead the Committee.