Seplat Energy says Roger Brown, its chief executive officer (CEO), has stepped down from his position.
In a statement on Friday, signed by Basil Omiyi, the board chairman of Seplat, the company said the decision followed the court order of a federal high court in Lagos.
On Thursday, TheCable reported that the court had restrained Brown from carrying out his official duties pending the determination of a suit filed against him and other respondents by aggrieved stakeholders of the company over allegations of racism, favouring of expatriate workers, discrimination against Nigerians, and breach of good governance.
The court restrained Brown as well as his proxies, privies, and agents from continuing to participate in the “day-to-day running and management of Seplat Energy or in any manner whatsoever pending the determination of [the] hearing and determination of the petitioners’ motion on notice for interlocutory injunction”.
In response to the court ruling, Seplat said Brown has delegated his authority to Samson Ezugworie, the chief operating officer of the company.
According to the statement, Ezugworie will continue to act as CEO during the period that Brown is required to step back from his executive duties.
“Seplat Energy Plc reports that on March 9, 2023, it was served with court processes and ex-parte interim order of the honourable Justice C. J. Aneke of the federal high court, Lagos, Nigeria, restraining the chief executive officer, Mr. Roger Brown from participating in the running of the company [for a period of seven days],” the statement reads.
“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.”
‘NIGERIANS HAVE BEEN APPOINTED TO SEPLAT’S MOST IMPORTANT POSITIONS’
Seplat had on Thursday, described the allegations against Brown as a “spurious and vindictive reaction” to the enforcement of corporate governance standards in the company by its board.
Reiterating its position, the firm refuted the allegations, noting that since Brown became CEO in 2020, Nigerian nationals have been appointed to the “company’s most important positions”.
These positions include chairman, senior independent non-executive director, chief financial officer and chief operating officer, it said.
“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 passed a vote of confidence in Mr. Brown as the CEO,” Seplat said.
“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 ffficer, to act as CEO during the period that he is required to step back from his executive duties.
“The injunction was filed by Messrs. 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.”
The company added that it will continue to maintain its operational excellence and act in line with the best corporate governance standards.
Meanwhile, Rauf Aregbesola, minister of interior, had revoked the work permit, visa, and residence permit of Brown following a petition sent to the minister of interior (against Brown) by employees of Seplat.