Court to Rule on Application to Set Aside Suspension of Seplat’s CEO on March 30
Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, in Lagos has fixed March 30, 2023, to rule on several applications challenging the suspension of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr. Roger Brown, from parading himself as the CEO of the company.
Justice Aneke adjourned the matter for ruling after hearing applications seeking to vacate the ex-parte order and to strike out the suit by counsel to the Respondents.
The court had on March 8, restrained Brown from parading himself as the CEO of the company pending the determination of a suit instituted against him and others by some aggrieved stakeholders of the company over allegations of racism, favouring of expatriate workers, discrimination against Nigerians, and breach of good governance.
Justice Aneke made order while ruling on a Motion Ex parte, filed by J C Njikonye, on behalf of some aggrieved stakeholders of Seplat – Moses Igbrude, Sarat Kudaisi, Kenneth Nnabike, Ajani Abidoye, and Robert Ibekwe, Petitioners, against the Respondents, Seplat Energy PLC, Mr. Roger Thompson Brown, and Mr. Basil Omiyi, in Suit No. FHC/L/402/2023.
Similarly, Justice Aneke in a separate ex parte application, granted the petitioners leave to serve the petition, any order of court and all other processes to be issued subsequently in the matter on Brown and Omiyi by pasting in the premises if Seplat Energy located at Ikoyi, Lagos.
When the matter was called yesterday for hearing of pending applications, Jeph Njikonye announced appearance for the aggrieved shareholders, Bode Olanipekun announced appearance for the first Respondent (Seplat Energy), Mathew Burkaa, announced appearance for 2nd Respondent (Roger Brown, while Uzoma Azikiwe, appeared for the 3rd Respondent (Basil Omiyi, Board Chairman, Seplat).
Addressing the court, counsel to the aggrieved shareholders, Njikonye informed the court that there were several applications before the court, submitting that his application for interlocutory injunction for joinder should be heard first before applications seeking to discharge the ex parte order made by the court.
He argued that by the nature of the suit and by virtue of Order 29 Rule 1A of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, the application for joinder takes preeminence above other applications.
However, counsel to the first Respondent, Olanipekun opposed the application arguing that the ex parte order granted by the court affected many other people who are not parties before the court.
He argued that those who were not parties came to challenge the order, adding that the application for joinder was not ripe for hearing.
Counsel to other Respondents aligned with submissions of Olanipekun, and urged the court to hear the application for setting aside the ex parte order made on 8th March 2023.
Justice Aneke in a brief ruling held that the application for interlocutory injunction was not ripe for hearing and called Counsel to the Respondents to move their applications.
The aggrieved shareholders had in their Motion on Notice prayed the court for a declaration that the affairs of Seplat had been conducted in a manner that was illegal, oppressive and unfairly prejudicial to the petitioners and other members of Seplat and in total disregard to the interest of the petitioners, other employees, and Seplat as a whole.
They equally sought a declaration that by condoning the unlawful, discriminatory and abusive conducts of Brown, the Board Chairman, Basil Omiyi, and the Non-executive Directors have “failed in the discharge of their duties and are unfit to continue to function in the Board of Directors of the 1st Respondent (Seplat).”
Consequently, the Petitioners seek “An order of mandatory injunction restraining the 2nd 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.”