After years of back and forth, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has finally settled the lingering employment dispute with its former Director General, Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, Mr. Lance Elakama and other executive staff.
The amicable settlement was reached following adoption of the terms of settlement between parties which has become a judgement of a Federal High Court in Lagos, and same had since been fully implemented.
The NSE is an independent, non-governmental and self-regulatory organisation (SRO) which has been at the vanguard of providing the platform for raising long term capital by companies, banks, government for industrial and economic development as well as funding federal and state government projects through issuing of securities such as development bonds, while its members include the licensed stock-broking firms, issuing houses/ underwriters, investment advisers, quoted banks and registrars of quoted companies.
Since incorporation in the 60s, the operation of NSE is largely peaceful until August 4, 2010 when the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Ms. Arunma Otteh, sacked the former Director-General, Okereke-Onyiuke, and the executive management staff; despite the fact that the Director General had in her letter of June 16, 2010 notified the Council of NSE of her voluntary retirement, effective December 15, 2010.
However, it emerged last Thursday that all disputes relating to the case of the former Director General and other senior executives, including former Assistant Director-General, Musa Elakama, have been amicably settled.
The SEC had, by a purported forensic audit report (where neither the Director General nor the staff were queried) accused Okereke-Onyiuke and the executive management staff of NSE of financial impropriety which culminated in SEC purportedly sacking Okereke-Onyiuke and others in 2010.
Okereke-Onyiuke successfully challenged her removal as well as the said forensic audit report respectively in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/963/2010 and FHC/L/CS/1430/2010 before the Federal High Court where the forensic report and her purported removal were set aside and declared null and void.
The court awarded her N500 million as damages.
Both SEC and NSE appealed against the judgements but the Court of Appeal again ruled in her favour.
The parties sheathed their swords and adopted Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms to resolve the lingering disputes, the new thinking in the Administration of Justice in Lagos State.
The landmark settlement was eventually reached in the said Federal High Court suit filed by the law firm of Chief Bolaji Ayorinde & Co who led consortium of lawyers including Aluko & Oyebode and SimmonsCoopers Partners in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/405/2015, while the former NSE DG and others were represented by Messrs Shola Lamid and Co, with the terms of settlement filed and signed by parties and their counsel adopted it and it became judgement of the court.
In a statement, counsel to Okereke-Onyiuke and Elakhama, Mr. Shola Lamid of Fortune Chambers, confirmed that the disputes had been amicably resolved and implemented in line with the said judgment of court.
Notable among the terms of settlement is that Okereke-Onyiuke was not sacked by the NSE but “shall retire from her former position as Director General and from other associate subsidiary companies of the NSE, such as Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) where she was the Chairman. “
It was also gathered that the pension of the former NSE boss has been paid by the NSE via Nigerian Life and Pension Company (NLPC) and she is being paid monthly although forfeited her gratuity and damages awarded to her in the said suit for wrongful dismissal and damage to her name, because she ‘does not want to destroy the Exchange and the Stock Market she nurtured (as a ‘Mother’ for 27 years).
The said terms of settlement also recognised and confirmed Okereke-Onyiuke’s title to the land on which she built her residence at Ikoyi Lagos, while same had since been fully implemented in compliance with the enrolled order of court.
“It is believed that with the landmark settlement reached on the court cases causing distractions in the running of the Exchange, the NSE can face the future, conclude its Demutualisation Plan (which Okereke-Onyiuke Initiated) and settle down to perform its financial role as platform for raising long-term capital for economic and industrial development of Nigeria.
“As provided in the said terms of settlement, the NSE is also free to consult, when necessary, its former DG, Okereke-Onyiuke, on any issue involving the capital market in order to benefit from her wealth of experience, legacy and knowledge of worldwide stock markets,” Lamid said.