In early November 2017, reports appeared in the media accusing the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission director general and two other senior officials of serious financial impropriety. On November 29 2017 the Federal Ministry of Finance – the commission's supervisory ministry – announced the suspension of the accused officials pending investigations into the accusations. The following day, media reports alleged that the true reason for the suspensions was not the accusations that were being investigated, but rather the director general's refusal to reverse an October 2017 decision to audit a listed oil company that had been accused of financial mismanagement and improper corporate governance.

The reports claimed that the Federal Ministry of Finance had directed the commission to reverse its decision to audit the company and that the commission had refused to do so. Shortly after the commission had ordered the audit, the oil company had sought to challenge the decision before the High Court. This attempt was defeated on November 24 2017, when the court ruled that any such challenge must be made before the Investment and Securities Tribunal – a special tribunal established to adjudicate capital market-related matters.

Regardless of whether the above allegations are true, the commission – whose remit includes a duty "to protect investors, market operators and also ensure market integrity" – has come under pressure in the past two years due to an increase in the number of market crises in which investors have lost significant sums of money, which critics have attributed to failures in oversight.

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For further information on this topic please contact Babajide Oladipo Ogundipe at Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore by telephone (+234 1 462 2502) or email (boogundipe@sooblaw.com). The Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore website can be accessed at www.sooblaw.com.