Reps query registrars over unclaimed dividends

The House of Representatives Committee on Capital Markets and Institutions has queried registrars of companies operating in the Nigerian capital market over unclaimed dividends by shareholders.

The committee said that it was necessary to ensure a healthy business environment in Nigeria where investors would be safe and could conduct their businesses with peace of mind.

Rep. Solomon Bob, the Chairman of the committee, said this in Abuja on Wednesday when the operators of the capital market appeared before the committee to answer questions bothering on unclaimed dividends.

He asked the operators why Nigeria is bedeviled with so many unclaimed dividends, while also asking them what they had done in their respective capacities to stem the tide.

“Why do we have such huge amounts of unclaimed dividends, and what are the chairmen doing in their respective positions to ensure that such unclaimed dividends become history?”

Mr Bayo Olugbemi, the Managing Director, First Registrar and Investor Services Ltd., said the history of unclaimed divides was a long one, adding that there was a time we had as much as 40 per cent unclaimed dividends. He, however, said that as of today, unclaimed dividends were less than five per cent, adding that the figure was still huge.

Olugbemi, who is also the immediate past president of the Institute of Capital Market Registrar, said that in the past five years, we have put in place a lot of initiatives that have reduced the quantum of unclaimed dividends.

He said, “We do send divided warrants to shareholders, but we stopped in 2015. So, the onus is on shareholders to give us their account details.

He said that in the last five months, N200 million of unclaimed dividends had been paid, adding that on a quarterly basis, they often make returns to the Securities and Exchange Commission on dividends unclaimed below 15 months and above.

According to him, it is difficult to keep this money. When shareholders die, there are processes to claim their dividends, and a lot of people who died and have not collected their dividends did so because their representative refused to come forward.

Mr. Dele Ilorin, MD, Unity Registrar Ltd., on his part, said the issue of unclaimed dividends had been a serious concern, adding that apart from shareholders who were yet to release their certificates, more than 50 percent were still holding down.


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