The Director-General, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda, has reiterated that investor protection would be at the centre of the new management’s initiatives, and warned operators against sharp practices or risk sanctions.
Yuguda, who in Abuja, at the weekend, described retail investors as key to the development of Nigeria’s capital market, noted that the new management would intensify efforts to increase investor confidence through education, robust regulation, and fair dealing.
“We will not condone sharp practices in the market; we will ensure that everyone plays by the rules, as that is one of the ways we can attract these investors. Investors need to be protected, once we can do that, we will be able to take our market to greater heights.
“We have robust rules and regulations guiding conduct in the capital market. We therefore urge operators to obey these rules, but for those that want to defraud investors, there would be no respite.
“We are ready to fight market manipulation and sharp practices, anyone that flouts our rules will be made to face the consequences of their actions,” he stated.
Yuguda also pledged the management’s determination to make the capital market more accessible to Nigerians to attract more investors, which will ensure its steady growth.
He said: “We need to make operations in the capital market as easy as possible, that way we can attract investments. We are aware that some investors have left their money due to the herculean procedures involved in getting them.
“Our desire is to ensure that people are able to benefit from investments, and with that, we can increase investor confidence. We will look at the processes involved and streamline them to ensure that investors are able to get their money without much difficulty.
“When that happens people can be motivated to come back to the market; unless we are able to attract people back, we cannot get the capital market that we can be proud of.
“We should make our local individual investors the key to succeed in our quest to rebound the market. Local investors don’t have anywhere to go to, and as long as they trust us, they will remain.”
Yuguda further urged investors to key into the various initiatives already rolled out by the Commission, including e-dividend, regularisation of multiple accounts, and direct cash settlement among others to have the benefit of their investments.
He said SEC also introduced a forbearance window to enable investors that bought shares with different names to regularise their accounts in order to reduce the quantum of unclaimed dividends in the capital market.
“We have told them that there is no penalty for doing so, as the SEC is not prosecuting anybody. All we want is for them to be able to get the benefits of their investments.
“However, many people have still not been able to claim their dividends because some of them have forgotten the names they used while others have not been able to prove to their stockbrokers that they are the owners of the shares.
“The SEC has given such shareholders amnesty to go and claim their shares, and as people are claiming those shares, unclaimed dividends number will go down. On our part, we will continue to persuade investors to regularise their accounts in order to curb the problem of unclaimed dividends.”