A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday nullified the removal of the former director-general of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Justice Mohammed Idris also awarded the sum of N500 million to Mrs. Okereke-Onyiuke as exemplary and aggravated damages.
The former Exchange boss had challenged her removal as the DG of the NSE by SEC and demanded N3 billion as damages.
Mrs Okereke-Onyiuke was removed on August 5, 2010 by SEC over allegations of financial impropriety. The capital market regulatory agency also removed Aliko Dangote as the president of the NSE during the period.
Delivering his judgment on Friday, Justice Muhammed Idris held that Mrs Okereke-Onyiuke’s removal was “irrational and hasty,” adding that “SEC acted in breach of Section 308 of the Investment and Security Act and, therefore, the removal of the plaintiff based on that section is a nullity.”
The judge held that the plaintiff’s right to fair hearing was breached, adding that ``it is ridiculous that SEC removed the plaintiff within 24 hours after directing the NSE to remove her.’’
The judge also dismissed SEC’s objection that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit, stressing that the Federal High Court had an exclusive jurisdiction over the case.
``The plaintiff is right to have commenced the suit by way of originating summons as provided by Order 3 Rule 6 of the Federal High Court rules, thus overruling the objection of SEC on the issue,” he said.
He ruled that Mrs Okereke-Onyiuke’s removal was not in accordance with the rule of law and should not be condoned in a democratic dispensation. He, therefore, declared the removal as “illegal, unlawful, null and void.