Court Sacks Seplat CEO, Restrains Board Chairman, Others Over Alleged Racism

Mr. Roger Brown

A Lagos Federal High Court, has restrained the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr. Roger Brown from parading himself as the firm’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), pending the determination of a suit instituted against him and others by aggrieved stakeholders of the company over allegations of racism, favouring of expatriate workers, discrimination against Nigerians, and breach of good governance.

The court also restrained the firm’s Chairman, Board of Directors, Mr. Basil Omiyi, and all the Non-Executive Directors under him 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 interlocutory injunction”.

Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke who presided over the court, made orders on Wednesday, while ruling on a Motion Exparte brought by some aggrieved Seplat Energy Plc’s 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 Suit marked FHC/L/402/2023.

Also, sequel to a separate ex parte application, Justice Aneke equally ordered the petitioners/applicants leave to serve the petition, any order of court and all other processes to be issued subsequently in the matter on Brown and Omiyi by pasting in the premises of Seplat Energy located at Ikoyi, Lagos.

The court has adjourned to March 23, for 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 seek a declaration that by condoning the unlawful, discriminatory, and abusive conducts of the CEO, Roger Brown, the Board Chairman, Basil 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).

Consequently, the Petitioners seek “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”.

They equally seek an order restraining Seplat and the Board Chairman from retaining Brown as the CEO of Seplat or retaining his services for Seplat in other capacity 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 Energy PLC signed by Mr. Akinola Adesina for the Honourable 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 read: “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 companies 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 validly issued Expatriate Quota approved by the Ministry of Interior resulting to 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 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”, the letter stated.