Seplat’s crisis deepens as court orders suspension of MD, Directors, Secretary


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.

Uba Group

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.