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Step down now, CSO tells over-stayed Seplat Energy’s Chair, Omiyi

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Mr Basil Omiyi, has been asked to step down as the Board Chairman of Seplat Energy Plc in the wake of crises rocking the company, a civil society and good governance advocacy group — Make a Difference Initiative (MADI) – has demanded.

MADI said the refusal by Omiyi to step down as the board chairman has triggered the crises rocking the organization.

Mr Lemmy Ughegbe, the Executive Director of the group, who made the call in a statement obtained by Persecondnews, demanded an investigation by the federal government of claims made by aggrieved Nigerian employees that Roger Brown, the former Chief Executive Officer and some interests in the company were plotting to acquire Seplat through the capital market, using some South Africans as fronts.

It will be recalled that Brown had stepped down as CEO following an order of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

Aggrieved stakeholders of the company had filed a suit over allegations of racism, favouring of expatriate workers, discrimination against Nigerians, and breach of good governance.

MADI accused Omiyi of violating the provisions of the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance 2018 on the tenure of directors.

Section 12 (10) of the Code states that the tenure for independent non-executive directors should not exceed three terms of three years each.

MADI also alerted to alleged efforts by Seplat leadership to coerce its Nigerian employees into passing a vote of confidence in both Brown and Omiyi.

“Omiyi and another board member, Charles Okeahalam, have refused to resign despite overstaying their maximum of nine years allowed by the said code.

“Grapevine has it that in a letter dated 30th January 2023, institutional shareholders of Seplat pointed out that Omiyi and Okeahalam had exceeded their tenure and called for their resignation.

“We also have it on good authority that while some major stakeholders kicked against Mr Omiyi’s choice as the company’s secretary, having done his maximum of nine years, it was later agreed that he serves for one year to enable the company to conclude the search for the replacement of Dr ABC Orjiako, who stepped down.

“Today, he is in his tenth year and still wants to carry on even when Section 12.10 of the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance specifically prescribes that the tenure for independent non-executive directors (INEDs) should not exceed three terms of three years each.

“We call on the Nigerian government to revisit the allegation by Nigerian workers that Mr Brown and Omiyi are bent on acquiring the Nigerian company through the capital market using some South African fronts. And that is what all this sit-tight syndrome and condonement of the CEO’s excesses is all about,’’ the statement said.

Describing Seplat Energy as a strategic national asset, MADI said it should not under any circumstance be allowed to slip out of the hands of Nigeria into the hands of foreigners.

“If the founders of Seplat had to vacate their positions when far minor issues arose around them, then MADI does not understand why employees of Seplat, Mr Brown and Mr Omiyi, should not bow out honourably or be sacked,’’ it said.

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