Minister Charges FRCN Board To Boost Ease Of Doing Business

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Dr Okechukwu Enelamah
  • As SEC sacks Ikeja Hotels board

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, has called on the board of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) to ensure high standards in financial reporting.

Enelamah, who inaugurated the board on Thursday in Abuja, said it should work towards achieving the government’s vision on the global Ease of Doing Business Rankings.

“The investment case is stronger when investors and other stakeholders have increased confidence that their interests are protected.

“The government is irrevocably committed to moving Nigeria up the rankings of the global ease of doing business and is conducted by the World Bank.

“We will like to move at least 20 places in this year, and by the time this government is coming to an end, we will like to be in the top 100.

“Therefore, I will like to request that you realign your operations in this direction and please let us be business-friendly.’’

Enelamah said that the 23 member board would help restore full oversight to the council thereby enabling the organisation to carry out its mandates more effectively.

The minister said the objectives of the board were to protect investors and other stakeholders’ interest, give guidance on issues relating to financial reporting and corporate governance to professional, institutional and regulatory bodies.

According to him, it would also ensure accuracy and reliability of financial reports and corporate disclosures, pursuant to the various laws and regulations currently in existence in Nigeria among others.

In his speech, the Chairman of the Board, Mr Adedotun Suleiman said that effective public financial management was critical in the government’s drive to improve the quality of life of the ordinary Nigerian.

Suleiman said the board would constructively engage with relevant stakeholders and forge strategic alliances with other relevant regulatory agencies and organisations.

“We understand the expectation of this government, especially in the area of aligning corporate financial reporting and corporate governance practice to international benchmark.

“The board will focus on rebuilding the confidence and integrity of financial reporting and the robustness of corporate government practices in Nigeria.

“And work towards securing the support and buy-in of all stakeholders, the government, the private sector, the not-for-profit sector as well as the international community, academia and civil society in support of achieving its objectives .’’

He said the board would support the management in eliciting the accord of all stakeholders and restore public confidence in the council.

In the meantime, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday dissolved the board of directors of Ikeja Hotels Plc and ordered a forensic investigation into the affairs of the hospitality and tourism company. Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN) is the interim chairman.

The apex capital market regulator said it sacked the board due to unresolved internal crisis involving some majority shareholders of Ikeja Hotels Plc, in apparent reference to the squabbles within the Ibru family, which holds the largest shareholdings in the company.

In a statement, SEC described the dissolution as a proactive measure to disallow the warring parties from taking certain actions that would give them an advantage over one another.

Ikeja Hotels, incorporated in 1972 and quoted on the NSE in 2007, controls a chain of hotels directly and through other subsidiaries and affiliates, including Tourist Company of Nigeria (TCN) Plc and Capital Hotel Plc. Ikeja Hotel. Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. TCN owns Federal Palace Hotel while Capital Hotel owns Abuja Sheraton Hotel. The Ibru family owns the single largest individual shareholding.

SEC noted that it had, in a bid to forestall chaos in the company, in conjunction with other distinguished personalities, held meetings with the existing board towards resolving the crises but the company continues to be plagued with unhealthy corporate governance practices in disregard of the code of corporate governance for public companies.

According to the Commission, as a public company, it is paramount that the activities of the company are conducted within the confines of corporate governance regulations in the Nigerian capital market, to ensure the protection of minority shareholders and other investors.

“Having failed to resolve its lingering crisis, the Commission in exercise of the powers conferred on it by the Investment and Securities Act, 2007 to protect investors and the integrity of the securities market, hereby approves the appointment of an interim Board for the company with Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN as interim chairman,” SEC stated.

SEC told the interim board to oversee the conduct of a forensic investigation into the affairs of the company, among other responsibilities.

“It is the Commission’s expectation that the shareholders and key management staff of the company will work with the new team to ensure that the fortunes of the company are restored in the shortest possible time,” SEC stated.

The Nation had earlier reported that Nigeria’s apex capital market regulator, SEC was scrutinising an investigative report on the boardroom crisis at Ikeja Hotel, after the simmering ownership and management crisis within the Ibru family snowballed into a major onslaught by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Capital market sources told The Nation that the regulators had dusted up investigative reports on Ikeja Hotel to review the facts and proactively act to protect shareholders’ interests.

A source at SEC said the apex capital market regulator had received a comprehensive report from the NSE, and the Commission had started reviewing the report in line with the market’s complaint management framework.

Authorities at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) had in November 2016 also suspended trading on the shares of Ikeja Hotels in apparent response to the high-stake dispute in the Ibru family.

Additional report from Nation

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