10th March, 2023
By Yusuf Yunus
Seplat Energy Plc says its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Roger Brown, has stepped aside from running the company for a period of seven days.
The company said in a corporate disclosure made available to Nigerian Exchange Ltd.,(NGX) and signed by its board Chairman, Mr Basil Omiyi, on Friday.
The company said that the decision followed an ex-parte Interim Order handed down by the Hon Justice C. J. Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, Nigeria, which restrained Brown for the period of time mentioned above.
It said, “Seplat Energy Plc reports that on March 9, 2023, it was served with court processes and ex-parte Interim Order of the Hon Justice C. J. Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, Nigeria, restraining the Chief Executive Officer from participating in the running of the company for a period of seven days.
“The Board believes these allegations are a spurious and vindictive reaction to the Board’s enforcement of corporate governance standards and a determination to continue to uphold their fiduciary duties and loyalty to the company.
“The Board of Seplat Energy has unanimously voted confident in Mr Brown as the CEO.”
According to it, the interim orders are premised on allegations of unfair, prejudicial, and offensive acts by the Chairman, CEO and all of the Independent Non-Executive Directors (INEDs) of Seplat Energy.
The allegations include that the CEO organised a site visit for a number of its major shareholders to the company’s operations, cancelled some catering and landscaping contracts, and introduced a new job performance rating.
Seplat Energy refuted the allegations and notes that since Brown became CEO in 2020, Nigerian nationals have been appointed to the company’s most important positions, including Chairman, Senior Independent Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating officer.
The company noted that the order allows the Chairman, Basil Omiyi, and all the INEDs of Seplat Energy to continue running the affairs of the company on the basis that it is in accordance with Nigerian law.
“Brown has delegated authority to Mr Samson Ezugworie, Chief Operating Officer, to act as CEO during the period that he is required to step back from his executive duties.
“The injunction was filed by Mr Moses Igbrude, Sarat Kudaisi, Kenneth Nnabike, Ajani Abidoye and Robert Ibekwe, who purport to have shares in Seplat Energy Plc.
“Seplat will follow the due processes of law in responding to the allegations before the courts.
“At the same time, the company will maintain its operational excellence and act in line with the best corporate governance standards,” it added.
The company said that the announcement was made pursuant to Rule 17.10 of the Rulebook of the Nigerian Exchange, 2015 (Issuer’s Rule).
It also said that the announcement was authorised for publication by Mr Basil Omiyi, Independent Chairman and Dr Charles Okeahalam, Senior Independent Director, on behalf of the entire Board of Seplat Energy