Avuru Threatens Court Action Against Seplat Energy Over Sack
By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja
The legal team of the former boss of the Seplat Energy, Mr. Austin Avuru, has indicated that they may head to court over the termination of his contract of appointment as a non-executive director of the company.
Avuru is a co-founder and the first managing director and chief executive officer of Seplat Energy, Nigeria’s biggest indigenous oil drilling company. In a notice signed by the director, legal/company secretary, Mrs. Edith Onwuchekwa, the indigenous oil company said the termination took effect from 22nd December 2021.
The company cited breaches of Seplat’s corporate governance policies and his fiduciary duties, but did not give details.
“The board has called for his resignation as a director of Seplat Energy. In line with Seplat Energy’s Memorandum and Articles of Association, Platform Petroleum Limited has been asked to nominate a candidate for his replacement on the board, and a further announcement will be made in due course,” the statement said.
Avuru held the position of managing director and chief executive officer of the company for 10 years, until his retirement in 2020.
In a swift reaction last weekend, Avuru’s lawyers, Perchstone and Graeys said Friday, said they could initiate a legal action against the oil driller in resistance to his sudden dismissal by the company’s hierarchy.
Observers say the move by the board of Seplet is the latest phase in the wrangle between the corporation and Mr. Avuru, who retired from the firm in November 2019 as a CEO, but had later become a non-executive director on a contract.
Reports say the row between the two came to a head early in the year over an undisclosed issue between the parties which, according to a statement by Mr. Avuru’s legal team, Seplat asked its erstwhile CEO now a non-executive director to keep under wraps.
The law firm said a letter from Seplat in January helped in “confirming our client’s dignified position, and urging our client to act with confidentiality, which is customary to our client’s impeccable character.”
Avuru’s lawyers said he got his termination notice around 6pm last Wednesday, without reasonable time to react before the announcement was made public the morning after.
“We are studying the papers and almost certainly will respond with appropriate step to remedy the multi-faceted wrongdoings on the part of Seplat on this,” Folabi Kuti, partner at Perchstone and Graeys, said in a statement.