By Gbenga Agbana Wednesday, 27 Oct 2010
Shareholders of publicly owned companies have called for the stoppage of the Unclaimed Dividend Bill about to be passed by the House of Representatives.
The bill, according to sources had gone through the second reading, but some shareholders have expressed concerns over those who will manage the fund when the bill is eventually passed into law.They have, therefore, urged the board of quoted companies not to release the funds to any group presented as the managers of the unclaimed dividend fund.
According to the shareholders, the presidency should stop the passage of the bill, since it is not in the interest of shareholders.The Securities and Exchange Commission had presented a similar bill few years ago, but the bill did not sail through because of vehement opposition from shareholders.
The current bill, according to sources, is being pushed by some members of the House of Representatives.Speaking on the issue, the President of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Sunny Nwosu, said, ”Those looking for unclaimed dividend funds to manage are not shareholders. We want to tell the board of directors of companies to ensure they don‘t release our money to them. They should not do so.”
Corroborating the view of Nwosu, the Chairman, Ibadan Zone Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Aderemi Oyepeju, noted that if the bill was not sponsored by the SEC, it should be thrown out.He also urged the presidency to intervene to ensure that the bill was thrown out.
According to him, “The bill is not transparent if it is not sponsored by the SEC. I strongly oppose it. The lawmakers should not look at the porridge in the pot and sponsor a bill on something that does not belong to them. The Companies and Allied Matters Act has stated how the issue of unclaimed dividend should be handled. If the bill they are passing is not bigger than the CAMA, they should allow shareholders to approve it before it is passed.
”The presidency should throw its weight behind it and ensure it is not passed. They should ask the stakeholders in in the capital market on how the issue of unclaimed dividend should be handled.”