* Director-general sacked, president suspended
* Follows allegations of mismanagement, weak oversight
* Part of drive to clean up Nigerian capital markets
(Adds quote, details)
By Chijioke Ohuocha and Nick Tattersall
LAGOS, Aug 4 Nigeria's Securities and Exchange
Commission sacked the head of the stock exchange on Wednesday
and suspended its chairman, in what it said was a move to
restore investor confidence amid a raft of governance
The SEC said Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Director-General
Ndi Okereke-Onyuike would be removed immediately and that an
interim administration would be announced before sub-Saharan
Africa's second-biggest stock market opened on Thursday.
NSE President Aliko Dangote, one of Nigeria's best-known
tycoons, and other members of the NSE governing council would
be suspended after being elected in defiance of a court order,
pending the outcome of litigation, the SEC said.
"The commission has closely followed the developments in
the Nigerian Stock Exchange, particularly with respect to
inadequate oversight..., ongoing litigation, allegations of
financial mismanagement, governance challenges and the
inordinate delays in the implementation of a succession plan,"
the SEC said.
"The commission has decided that it is in the interest of
the public and necessary to protect the investor to issue
(these) directives," it said in a statement.
Okereke-Onyuike, Dangote and other council members could
not immediately be reached for comment.
The move is the latest sign of a more muscled approach from
Nigeria's capital markets regulator since its new chief
executive, Arunma Oteh, took office in January pledging tougher
penalties to help restore investor confidence.
"Given the gravity of the allegations around financial
mismanagement of the exchange, the commission has also directed
the conduct of an independent investigation into the
allegations," the SEC statement said.
DOGGED BY CONTROVERSY
Sub-Saharan Africa's second-biggest economy has been one of
the darlings of frontier markets investors, with a population
of more than 140 million people and a stock market that has
outperformed emerging markets peers.
But weak regulation and impunity for offenders have clouded
The stock exchange has long been dogged by controversy.
The SEC announced last week it was taking 260 entities and
individuals to a special tribunal over alleged market abuse in
the run-up to a stock market collapse and banking crisis which
ended in a $4 billion bailout last year. [ID:nLDE66Q2B8]
In March, a court overturned the election of billionaire
industrialist Aliko Dangote as NSE president following an
appeal by shareholders in African Petroleum (AP) AP.LG, whose
stock price he had been accused of manipulating.
The SEC had last year cleared Dangote, one of only two
Nigerians on the Forbes billionaires list, of any involvement
in manipulating AP shares but the court upheld AP's appeal
against his election.
Further adding to the sense of crisis, Dangote was quoted
by Nigerian newspapers on Monday as saying the exchange was
broke and that it was being forced to dip into funds belonging
to an independent clearing house subsidiary to finance its
NSE officials declined to comment.
Nigeria's Business Day newspaper reported on Wednesday that
U.S. firm Accenture (ACN.N), retained by the exchange to help
select a new chief executive to replace Okereke-Onyuike who was
due to retire later this year, had suspended its work over the
non-payment of fees. Accenture declined to comment.
(For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the
top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/ )
(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha and Nick Tattersall; Editing
by Sofina Mirza-Reid)