A Federal High Court in Lagos Wednesday issued an interim order restricting the Chief Executive of Seplat Energy, Roger Brown, from everyday running and management of the company.
The court also restricted Mr Brown’s proxies, agents and privies from managing the company until a decision is reached on a motion by some stakeholders on notice for interlocutory injunction.
The petitioners involved are Moses Igbrude, Ajani Abidoye, Sarat Kudaisi, Robert Ibekwe and Kenneth Nnabike who prayed the court to grant an order restraining the chair of the directors’ board, Basil Omiyi, and all independent non-executive directors of Seplat Energy from running the company’s affairs “in an illegal, unfairly, prejudicial and oppressive manner pending the hearing and determination of the petitioners’ motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”\
The plea was granted, according to copies of court documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.
Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke, the presiding judge, adjourned the lawsuit to 23 March, 2023, when the hearing of the pending application is due to commence.
Meanwhile, the petitioners made a separate request for an order forbidding Seplat Energy and its chairman from retaining Mr Brown as the company’s CEO or allowing him to serve in any other role within the firm.
The petitioners presented to the court exhibits including a letter directed to the minister of interior, stating allegations of racism, discrimination, favouritism and breach of corporate governance against the Seplat CEO.
Another letter from Rauf Aregbesola, Nigeria’s minister of interior, showing the ministry’s resolution of the petition, was also part of the exhibits.
Mr Aregbesola had on 3 March written Mr Omiyi, apprising him of the revocation of Mr Brown’s work permit, visa and residence permit as well as of a petition from a lawyer to some aggrieved Seplat Energy employees, bringing some allegations against Mr Brown.
“These accusations include racism, favouring foreign workers, and discriminating against Nigerian employees. Testimony was received from several witnesses, which supported the allegations,” the letter said.
“Mr. Roger T. Brown declined to attend despite two invitations, claiming to be unavailable even though we learnt he was in Abuja for other purposes at the time,” it added.
Seplat Energy Plc in its reaction Thursday debunked reports that the work, visa and residence permit of Mr Brown was withdrawn by the Ministry of Interior.
“Seplat Energy wishes to refute the false allegations against Mr. Brown, which have been presented to the Ministry of Interior and the public by certain petitioners, and which have not been brought to the attention of Mr. Roger Brown or Seplat Energy for a reaction,” the oil and gas company said in a Thursday notification to the Nigerian Exchange.
It stated further it plans to contact the ministry with a view to rejecting the perceptions the reports have created, noting that the claims are a malicious response to the implementation of corporate governance standards in the company by the board.
The statement issued on the authorisation of the chair of the directors’ board, Mr Omiyi, disclosed that the CEO has earned for himself over the last ten years an unsullied reputation for leadership and service in the company.