Investors in the capital market have decried the difficulties in reclaiming their dividends running into N126.03bn. Some of the shareholders, who spoke in separate interviews with our correspondent, described the e-dividend mandate management system as ‘a scam’. The latest data obtained from Securities and Exchange Commission showed that the total value of unclaimed dividends as of March 2019 stood at N126.03bn.
This represents a 2.16 per cent decline over the N128.81bn unclaimed dividends recorded in March 2018. Dividends issued and not claimed over 15 months are either kept with registrars or returned to the issuing companies. According to the SEC data, the value of unclaimed dividends with registrars stood at N8.68bn while N97.24bn represented the amount of unclaimed dividends with the companies.
The acting Director-General, SEC, Ms Mary Uduk, while speaking during the last post-Capital Market Committee meeting in Lagos, confirmed that dividends (with the registrars) left unclaimed for more than 15 months would be returned to the companies. Uduk said there was a provision in the Companies and Allied Matters Act that if unclaimed dividends stayed for a specified time, they would be returned to the paying company.
According to her, the return of dividends unclaimed for over 15 months to the paying company will be beneficial to shareholders as the money can be reinvested by the company to produce more interest for shareholders. Uduk said, “In 2018, SEC stopped the free registration exercise (for e-dividend). At that time, 2.2 million investors had mandated (registered). It is interesting to observe that just because the free registration stopped, members of the pubic appear not to come forward again.”