Court Reverses Order Sacking Seplat’s CEO, Roger Brown

A Lagos Federal High Court, today, vacated the interim ex-parte orders previously made by the court, stopping Mr Roger Brown, from parading himself as the Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy Plc.

Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke who presided over the court vacated the order while ruling on applications filed by the respondents, namely; Seplat Energy PLC, Mr. Roger Thompson Brown, Mr. Basil Omiyi, and Persons affected by the ex parte orders in a suit numbered FHC/L/402/2023.

Discharging the interim order, Justice Aneke held that by virtue of Order 26 Rules 9 and 10 of the of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2019, the interim orders of the court made on 8th March 2023 are hereby discharged and vacated. 

The judge also refused the request of counsel to the petitioners to move his application for joinder.

Justice Aneke held that the business of the day was for ruling on application to set aside the ex-parte orders made on 8th of March 2023.

The court noted that since counsel to all the respondents are opposed to hearing of the application, his request cannot be accommodated.

Justice Aneke had on March 8, 2023 restrained Mr. Brown from parading himself as the CEO of the company pending the determination of the suit instituted against him by some aggrieved stakeholders of the company over allegations of racism, favouring of expatriate workers, discrimination against Nigerians, and breach of good governance.

Justice Aneke made the orders while ruling on a Motion Ex-parte, filed by J. C. Njikonye (SAN), on behalf of some aggrieved stakeholders of Seplat, who were; Moses Igbrude, Sarat Kudaisi, Kenneth Nnabike, Ajani Abidoye, and Robert Ibekwe, against the Respondents, Seplat Energy Plc, Mr. Roger Thompson Brown, and Mr. Basil Omiyi.

However the respondents in their various applications urged the court to set aside the ex-parte orders, arguing that the Petitioners lacked ‘locus standi’ to file the suit.

They also challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit on grounds that the complaints of the Petitioners fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court.

Besides, they contended that the interim orders were granted against persons that were not parties to the suit, and that the Petitioners lacked locus standi to file the suit.

The Respondents argued that those persons who were not parties to the suit at the time the interim orders were granted have come to ask the Court to set aside the interim orders.

Besides, they stated that the Petitioners having seeing that the interim orders ought not have been sought and obtained against these persons, they (Petitioners) have now brought an application for joinder saying those persons are necessary parties

“Despite being aware that those persons against whom the interim order were made in their absence are necessary parties, the Petitioners did not make these persons Respondents in the suit, obtained orders against them in their absence, knowing that they were necessary parties, and has now filed the Joinder Application after obtaining the interim orders.  

Specifically, counsel to Seplat, Mr. Bode Olanipekun, SAN, submitted that the interim orders of the court had elapsed by the passage of time and if the Counsel to the Petitioners/Respondents concedes that the interim orders had expired and needs the formal orders of the court to be set aside, the coast would be clear for him to make any further application.

In his ruling, Justice Aneke, noted that the Petitioners had in their application alleged that the affairs of Seplat was been conducted in a manner that is illegal, oppressive and unfairly prejudicial to their interests.

The Judge held that: “I find as a fact that the petitioners’ grouse can adequately be accommodated under the provisions of Section 354 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), which falls within the jurisdiction of this court. 

“I find and hold that the petitioners have locus standi to bring the petition before the Court. Furthermore, this court has jurisdiction to adjudicate on the suit as it falls within the provision of section 251 of the Constitution. However, by virtue of Order 26 Rules 9 and 10 of the of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2019, the interim orders of the court made on 8th March 2023 are hereby discharged and vacated.”

Justice Aneke has adjourned the matter till May 16 for accelerated hearing.