Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the suspension of the managing director, directors and secretary of the board of Seplat Energy Plc, pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice filed by three aggrieved shareholders.
The order followed a motion ex-parte, dated May 8 and marked, “FHC/ABJ/CS/626/23”, moved by counsel for the plaintiffs, Abiodun Layonu.
The motion, which prayed the court for four orders, had Juliet Ebere Nwadi Gbaka, Margaret Awobusuyi Funmilayo and Clement Akaeme as 1st to 3rd plaintiffs, respectively (aggrieved shareholders).
Also joined in the suit are the SEC, Corporate Affairs Commission, Datamax Registrars Limited and PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited as 11th to 14th defendants, respectively.
In a ruling, Justice Ekwo also compelled the Securities and Exchange Commission to constitute and appoint suitable persons to run the affairs of the oil company, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the shareholders.
In addition, the court restrained the top officers of the company, their agents, personal representatives, acting on their behalf or instruction, from operating or functioning as officers of the oil film under any guise, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory.
Those affected by the orders are Roger Thompson Brown (MD); Basil Omiyi (Chairman of the Board of Directors); Emma Fitzgerald, Dr. Charles Okeahialam, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, Rabiu Bello, Mrs. Bashirat Odenewu (independent non-executive directors).
Also affected are Mrs. Edith Onwuchekwa (Company Secretary) and Samuel Ezeugwuorie (chief operating officer). They are all listed as 2nd to 10th defendants, respectively, in the suit.
More so, the trial judge restrained them from taking any decision or action whatsoever with respect to the day-to-day running of the company, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed by the shareholders.
“An order is hereby made suspending the 2nd to 10th defendants as directing minds and secretary of the 1st defendant (Seplat), pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the applicants,” Justice Ekwo held before adjourning the matter to May 23.
Justice Ekwo had, on April 28, restrained the management of the company from holding the annual general meeting scheduled for May 10, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter in another suit filed by some aggrieved shareholders of the oil company.
In their originating summons, dated and filed May 8, the aggrieved shareholders alleged that the 2nd to 10th defendants mismanaged and breached the company’s corporate governance documents.
Consequently, they are seeking a declaration that by the combined provisions of Article 130 (i) of the Articles of Association of the company and Articles 3.1 (i) and (j) of the Code of Corporate Governance for Public Companies in Nigeria, it was appropriate in the circumstance for the affected persons to resign their appointment.
More so, the plaintiffs want an order of injunction, directing and mandating the SEC and CAC to disqualify or remove them as directors or officers of the company, appoint suitable persons to run its affairs and conduct an investigation into the affairs of the company for the past 30 months preceding the filing of the suit, among others reliefs.