Appeal Court Stays Enforcement of Order Suspending Seplat’s CEO, Others

Appeal Court Stays Enforcement of Order Suspending Seplat’s CEO, Others

Wale Igbintade

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal yesterday, stayed the enforcement of an order made by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja suspending the management of Seplat Energy Plc from office.

 Those suspended were the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Roger Brown, and Board Chairman, Mr. Basil Omiyi.

Besides, the court ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to immediately appoint suitable persons to run the affairs of the company, pending the determination of the motion on notice filed by the applicants.

Others suspended pending the determination of the motion on notice for Interlocutory Injunction filed by some aggrieved shareholders of the company, were some independent members of the Board of Directors.

Dissatisfied, Seplat Energy in its notice of appeal filed at the Court of Appeal by its team of lawyers led my Mr. D.D Dodo, Bode Olanipekun and Audu Anuga, urged the appellate court to set aside the interim order.

In a further affidavit in support of motion ex-parte, deposed to by Adoga Moses, a Litigation Clerk, in the employment of Wole Olanipekun & Co, the appellant stated that out of 588,444,561 issued shares of the appellant/applicant, the plaintiffs at the lower court have cumulative shares of 131 units.

In breaking it down, the deponent stated that the 1st plaintiff has 100 units of shares while the 2nd and 3rd plaintiffs have 31 and 30 units respectively.

According to him, “he cumulative percentage shareholding of the plaintiffs who have obtained disruptive orders against the applicant amounts to 0.00002736 per cent.

“The action of the plaintiffs and the orders granted by the lower court have the implication of diminishing the share value of the applicant who has dual listings on the Nigerian and London Stock exchanges as well as cause panic in the capital market and reduce investor confidence.

“Even before the orders of the lower court were served, same had been given wide publicity across various news outlets. Now shown to me, attached hereto and marked as Exhibits 10, 11 and 12 are copies of news reports with global reach relating to the orders of ex parte injunction granted by the lower court.

“The applicant is at the risk of irreparable damage to its brand, business, investor equity, contractual and statutory obligations if the orders sought are not granted.

‘’It is in the interest of justice to grant this application and the balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant.

Ruling on the application a three-man panel of the Appeal Court comprising of Justices Muhammad Mustapha, (presiding), Justice J. G. Abundaga, and Justice D. Z. Senchi, suspended the enforcement of the ex parte orders granted by the Justice I. E. Ekwo pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated 12th May, 2023 and or pending further directives of the court.

Justice Abundaga who read the order, consequently adjourned the matter to May 30, 2023, for hearing of the motion on notice

The appellant had in it motion on notice argued that it has been the subject of various disruptive shareholder actions qua petitions including SUIT NO. FHC/L/PET/402./2023 – Moses Igbrude & Ors v. Seplat Energy Plc & Ors. filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division on 8th March, 2023; SUIT NO. FHC/ABJ/PET/8/2023 – Boniface Okozie & Ors v. Seplat Energy Plc & Ors.  filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja judicial division on 13th April, 2023; and SUIT NO. FHC/ABJ/PET/626/2023 – Juliet Ebere Nwadigbaka & Ors. v Seplat Energy Plc & Ors. filed on 9th May, 2023.

The company further stated that in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/PET/8/2023, the petitioners filed a motion ex-parte seeking to restrain the officials and directors of the appellants from continuing to operate in their employment capacities and upon hearing the said application on 18th April, 2023, the Court refused to make same and ordered that the appellants be put on notice.

The crisis rocking the foremost indigenous energy company had resulted in a floodgate of litigations.

The crisis erupted when the Seplat terminated the consultancy agreement it signed with Amaze Limited, a firm promoted by its former Chairman, Dr. ABC Orjiako.

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