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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday extended the deadline for shareholders with multiple accounts till December 31, 2019 from the December 31, 2018.

This is even as the commission revealed that only 2.5 million people have already migrated to e-dividend accounts and urged investors to seize the opportunity to get their unclaimed dividends.

Multiple subscriptions to public offers occurred during the market boom when investors juggled their names in different forms to enable them purchase more than the permitted units of shares in public offers.

The worrying situation became more prevalent because it is believed that the continued rise is detrimental to the growth and development of an emerging market that wants to achieve a world-class status and attract direct foreign investment.

Addressing journalists at the third 2018 post-Capital Market Committee (CMC) meeting in Lagos, SEC’s acting Director General, Mary Uduk, explained that on the lingering issues of multiple subscriptions and forbearance of shareholders with multiple accounts, the CMC agreed that the forbearance window should be extended by another year from December 31, 2018 deadline previously communicated to the public.

Uduk urged investors to take advantage of the opportunity to claim their unclaimed dividends and bonuses.

She further reiterated the commission’s commitment in engaging with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) on behalf of CMC to facilitate identity and account validation in an effort to enhance market processes and to boost the e-dividend mandate and direct cash settlement initiative.

Similarly, the Ag DG said as part of efforts to eliminate underhand dealings, the commission is set to take enforcement actions against any persons engaged in trading in the shares of public unlisted companies outside a recognised securities exchange as provided by the Rules.

Corroborating, Ag. Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services at SEC, Henry Rowland, noted that the objective of regularising multiple subscriptions is to reduce the growing rate of unclaimed dividend in the market.

“The market did consultations with Registrars, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), and we agreed that we have to extend the whole exercise beyond December 31, 2018. This was done to enable many investors as possible to get captured into the regularisation net.

We also recognised that there is likelihood of electioneering period and this might cause a form of disruption between now and May 2019, so we agreed that it is good to give adequate time so that whatever disruption period we will witness can be accommodated,” Rowland explained.

According to him, the e-dividend process remains functional and active and it has increased to 2.5 million from 2.1 million people who had mandated earlier, this shows progress in what the SEC is doing in that aspect.”

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