After the revocation of his work, visa, and residence permits, the CEO of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr Roger Brown, has been restrained from parading himself as the company’s CEO pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed against him and others by aggrieved stakeholders of the company.
A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, gave the order following allegations of racism, favouring of expatriate workers, discrimination against Nigerians, and breach of good governance.
Persecondnews reports that also restrained is the company’s Chairman, Board of Directors, Mr Basil Omiyi, and all the Non-Executive Directors under him.
They are barred from “continuing to run the affairs of Seplat in an illegal, unfair, prejudicial, and oppressive manner pending the hearing and determination of the petitioner’s motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction”.
Persecondnews had reported that the revocation of Brown’s permits is contained in a March 3, 2023 letter to the Board Chairman of Seplat Energy Plc by the Honourable Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, reportedly identified by journalists at the Federal High Court Lagos on Wednesday, where some concerned stakeholders have instituted a legal proceeding against Seplat in this respect.
In a ruling by Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, on Wednesday, Brown was shown the way out of the company in a motion ex parte brought by some aggrieved Seplat Energy Plc stakeholders.
The applicants/petitioners in the suit are Moses Igbrude, Sarat Kudaisi, Kenneth Nnabike, Ajani Abidoye, and Robert Ibekwe, while Seplat Energy Plc, Mr Roger Thompson Brown, and Mr Basil Omiyi, were listed as respondents in the suit marked FHC/L/402/2023.
The judge also granted leave to the petitioners/applicants to serve the petition, any order of the court and all other processes to be issued subsequently in the matter on Brown and Omiyi by pasting the same in the premises of Seplat Energy located at Ikoyi, Lagos.
The case has been adjourned until March 23, for a hearing of the pending application.
The applicants had in their motion on notice, filed by their lawyer, Jeph Njikonye, SAN, prayed the court for a declaration that the affairs of Seplat have been conducted in a manner that is 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 conduct of the CEO, Brown, the Board Chairman, 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 first respondent (Seplat).
The petitioners, therefore, seek among others: “An order of mandatory injunction restraining the second 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.
“An order restraining Seplat and the Board Chairman from retaining Brown as the CEO of Seplat or retaining his services for Seplat in other capacities whatsoever.”
To support their case, the aggrieved stakeholders exhibited a petition to the Minister of Interior against Brown by employees of Seplat, as well as a letter by the Minister of Interior communicating the Ministry’s decision on the said petition to the company.
In the March 3, 2023 letter addressed to the Board Chairman of Seplat signed by Mr Akinola Adesina for the Minister, which was marked as Exhibit B, the Ministry of Interior had conveyed the revocation of Roger Brown’s Work Permit, Visa, and Residence Permit.
The letter reads: “I write to inform you that the Ministry is in receipt of a petition from the solicitor to the concerned workers and stakeholders of Seplat Energy Plc accusing Mr Rogers Thomson Brown, the CEO of the company of various allegations.
“These accusations include racism, favouring foreign workers and discriminating against Nigerian employees.
“Testimony was received from several witnesses, which supported the allegations. Mr Roger T. Brown declined to attend despite two invitations, claiming to be unavailable, even though we learnt he was in Abuja for other purposes at the time.
“Investigation and records in the Ministry also revealed that Mr Roger Brown was in possession of CERPAC that was not based on a validly issued Expatriate Quota approved by the Ministry of Interior, resulting in the violation of relevant Immigration Laws and Regulations.
“As a result of these, the Honourable Minister has determined that Mr Brown’s continued stay in Nigeria is contrary to the national interest.
“Consequently, the Ministry has withdrawn the Work Permit CERPAC, Visa, Residence Permit and all relevant documents that authorized Mr Roger Thomson Brown’s entry or stay in Nigeria.”