Reports that the Nigerian Government has revoked the work and residence permits as well as visa of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seplat Energy PLC, Roger Brown, over allegations of racism, favouritism and discrimination against Nigerian workers have unsettled the oil and gas company.
The report said the Federal Ministry of Interior, which imposed the sanctions, also accused Brown of being in possession of a Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC) not based on a valid Expatriate Quota.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Arebesola, who informed the Chairman of the Board of Seplat Energy Plc, Basil Omiyi, of the revocation of Mr Rogers’ permits and visa, said the decision to sanction the Seplat boss followed his refusal to honour several invitations by a panel constituted by the Ministry to look into the matter.
The letter conveying the revocation directive sighted by our reporter was titled: “Withdrawal of Work Permit, CERPAC, Visa/Residence Permit of Mr. Roger Thompson Brown – CEO, SEPLAT Energy Plc.”
The letter read: “I write to inform you that the Ministry is in receipt of a petition from the Solicitor to the concerned workers and stakeholders of Seplat Energy Plc accusing Mr. Rogers Thomson Brown, the CEO of the company of various allegations.
“These accusations include racism, favouring foreign workers and discriminating against Nigerian employees. Testimony was received from several witnesses, which supported the allegations. Mr. Roger T. Brown declined to attend meetings to defend himself, but despite two invitations, claiming to be unavailable, eventhough we learnt he was in Abuja for other purposes at the time.
“Investigation and records in the Ministry also revealed that Mr. Roger Brown was in possession of CERPAC that was not based on validly issued Expatriate Quota approved by the Federal Ministry of Interior, thus violating relevant Immigration Laws and Regulations.
“As a result of these, the Minister has determined that Mr. Brown’s continued stay in Nigeria is contrary to national interest.
“Consequently, the Ministry has withdrawn the Work Permit CERPAC, Visa, Residence Permit and relevant documents that authorised Mr. Roger Thomson Brown’s entry or stay in Nigeria,” the letter stated.
Brown, a British, joined Seplat in 2013, as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and was made the company’s CEO in November 2019, but effectively assumed the office in 2020.
However, in its reaction contained in a regulatory filing with the Nigerian Exchange
Limited (NGX) and the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), Omiyi denied the allegations against Mr Brown.
The response titled “Seplat Energy Plc Response to media reports” said: “Seplat Energy Plc has become aware of a news report following a letter
regarding the residency status of its Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), Mr. Roger Brown.
“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 orchestrated media reports are clearly calculated to spread false
information. Seplat Energy will be engaging with the Ministry to reject the impressions created by these allegations.
“The Board believes that these allegations are a spurious and vindictive reaction to the enforcement of corporate
governance standards in the Company by the Board of Seplat Energy. Over the past decade, Mr. Brown has earned an unblemished record of service and leadership in the Company.
“On 8th March 2023, the Board of Seplat Energy unanimously passed a vote of confidence in Mr. Brown, who continues to discharge his duties and
responsibilities as CEO from the SEPLAT UK office,” Mr Omiyi said.