MOUNIR Gwarzo, former Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has been arraigned before Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, for allegedly paying himself N115 million in illegal benefits during his tenure as DG.
According to the charges filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Gwarzo was accused of receiving the sum of N104,851,154.94 as severance benefit from SEC between May and June 2015, when he had yet to retire, resign or disengage from the commission.
He also allegedly collected an excess of N10,983,488.88 in car grant within the same period.
Gwarzo was arraigned alongside Zakwanu Garuba, a commissioner with SEC, who was accused of abusing his office by approving the illegal payments.
Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Consequently, Justice Baba-Yusuf granted the accused persons bail to the sum of N25 million and one surety each. The sureties must not be below the rank of a Deputy Director in any federal government establishment.
Both accused persons were also ordered to deposit their passports and other travelling documents with the court’s registry.
The case has been adjourned to June 28 and 29 for continuation.
Gwarzo has insisted that he committed no offence by paying himself a severance package as a former commissioner of SEC as that was the statutory provision.
Speaking during a House of Representatives’ investigative panel to examine the circumstances surrounding his controversial removal as SEC DG, Gwarzo said that according to the regulation, any permanent commissioner who spends up to two years in office is entitled to a severance package.
He explained that he was appointed Permanent Commissioner in January 2013, and spent over two years before his appointment as DG in May 2015. Therefore, having served for two years, Gwarzo claims the severance package was legal.
But the ICPC and the federal ministry of finance, argue that since Gwarzo was not leaving SEC, but had merely been promoted from a commissioner to a director general, it was wrong for him to have approved a severance package for himself.
Following his removal as SEC DG, Gwarzo claimed he was being ‘punished’ by Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance, over his refusal to call off the probe he ordered into the financial standing of Oando Plc.
Adeosun denies the claims, stating rather that Gwarzo was suspended for threatening to blackmail her, and also for violating the public service rules and regulations.