• Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

    Seplat Energy crisis: Company COO to take charge for 7 days


    Mar 11, 2023

    Seplat Energy PLC Chief Operating Officer, Samson Ezugworie, has been mandated to take charge of the company in an acting capacity as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in the next seven days pending the resumption of the embattled CEO, Rogers Brown, the company has said.

    The indigenous oil and gas company announced the delegation of the responsibility to Mr Ezugworie in its latest regulatory filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange to provide an update on the crisis rocking the company. 

    On March 3, 2023, the Nigerian Government announced the revocation of the work and residency permits as well as the withdrawal of the visa of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, Roger Brown, over allegations of racism, favouritism and discrimination against Nigerian workers in its operations. 

    The Federal Ministry of Interior said its imposed the sanctions after Mr Brown was accused of being in possession of a Combined Expatriate Residency Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC) not based on a valid Expatriate Quota.

    Few days later, aggrieved workers and other stakeholders of the company who have been having a running battle with the management of the company over unresolved issues filed an application before the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos seeking an order to restrain Mr Brown from continuing to parade himself as the CEO of the company till further notice. 

    The applicants/petitioners in the application with reference No. FHC/L/402/2023 included Moses Igbrude, Sarat Kudaisi, Kenneth Nnabike, Ajani Abidoye, and Robert Ibekwe who are shareholders in the company, with Messrs Brown, and Omiyi were listed as respondents.

    The Petitioners in their Motion on Notice filed by their legal counsel, Jeph Njikonye, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), made several pleas, including: “An order of mandatory injunction restraining the second respondent (Brown), from parading himself as, or continuing to operate as the CEO of the 1st Respondent (Seplat) or working for Seplat in any other capacity.

    “An order restraining Seplat and the Board Chairman from retaining Mr Brown as the CEO of Seplat or retaining his services for Seplat in another capacity whatsoever.”

    In a separate exparte application, Justice Aneke granted the petitioners/applicants leave to serve their petition against the defendants, any order of the court and all other processes to be issued subsequently in the matter on Mr Brown and Mr Omiyi by pasting them in the premises of Seplat Energy located at Ikoyi, Lagos.

    In its reaction to the court order on Friday, the company acknowledged being served with court processes and ex-parte Interim Order, but said the allegations against its CEO were “spurious, 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.”

    Despite the order restraining Mr. Brown from participating in the running of the Company for a period of seven days, Seplat Energy said its Board unanimously passed a vote of confidence in him as the CEO.

    The statement said the interim orders were 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.

    Some of the allegations included 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 refutes the allegations and notes that since Mr. Brown became CEO in 2020, Nigerian nationals have been appointed to the company’s most important positions, including Chairman, Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating officer.

    “The Order allows the Chairman, Mr. 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. Mr. 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.

    “Seplat will follow the due processes of law in responding to the allegations before the courts. At the same time, the Company will continue to maintain its operational excellence and act in line with the best corporate governance standards,” the statement said.

    Editor’s Note: The picture earlier posted was replaced. It was found to be wrong. Our apologies.

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