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Seplat proceeds with planned AGM as court adjourns suit to May 31

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The planned Annual General Meeting (AGM) by Seplat Energy PLC, scheduled for 10 May, will hold as the Federal High Court in Abuja adjourned the suit number FHC/ABJ/PET/8/2023 filed by some minority shareholders to May 31.

The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, ordered that all the respondents be served before the matter could be taken. All parties were represented except the 10th Respondent, according to a statement.

In a statement signed by Basil Omiyi, Seplat’s Board Chairman, the energy company has refuted all allegations made in the petitions, which, given their almost identical wording to a separate petition filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

This has been described as part of an orchestrated attempt to damage the company in response to its efforts to improve corporate governance by eliminating related party transactions and implementing other governance initiatives.

“The presiding judge ordered that all the respondents be served before the matter could be taken. All parties were represented except the 10th Respondent (the Corporate Affairs Commission),” the statement said.

The suit before Justice Inyang Ekwo was brought by Boniface Okezie, Bright Nwabuogwu, John Isesele, Okonkwo Timothy, and Augustine Ezechukwu (Petitioners/Applicants).

This was against Roger Brown, the CEO of Seplat Energy, Basil Omiyi, as well as Independent Non-Executive Directors of the company, Charles Okeahialam, Fabian Ajogwu, Rabiu Bello, Bashirat Odenewu, Emma Fitzgerald; Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Edith Onwuchekwa, and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

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With respect to Suit Number FHC/ABJ/PET/8/2023 brought before the Federal High Court in Abuja by Boniface Okezie & 4 ors V. Seplat & 9 ors, Seplat has said that its independent legal advisors have advised that the petition is an unlawful duplication of another petition already before the Federal High Court in Lagos (Suit No. FHC/L/CP/402/2023) filed by Moses A. Igbrude & 4 Ors V. Seplat Energy Plc & 2 Ors), where the Court recently vacated the Interim Orders against the Chief Executive Officer and adjourned the case to May 16, 2023.

According to the statement, all parties except the first respondent (Seplat Energy PLC) informed the Court that they have not been served, as ordered by the Court. The 1st Respondent also informed the Court that they have filed an affidavit to show cause and a preliminary objection on jurisdiction and that a similar petition is pending at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The Court ordered that the right thing be done and that the 10th Respondent (CAC) be served against the next hearing date.

The attempt by the counsel to the Petitioners to get the court to halt the AGM was opposed by each of the counsel for the Respondents.

After listening to Kalu Onuoha, Esq., counsel for the Petitioners; Wole Olanipekun, SAN, counsel for Seplat; Matthew Burka, SAN, counsel for Roger Brown (who held brief of Hassan Liman, SAN), counsel for Rabiu Bello and Emma Fitzgerald, Uzoma Azikiwe, SAN, counsel for Basil Omiyi, O.A. Omonuwa, SAN, counsel for Charles Okeahialam and Fabian Ajogwu, and Taiwo Osipita, SAN, representing Bashirat Odenewu and Edit Onwuchekwa, Justice Ekwo ruled that parties are hereby ordered not to tamper with the res until issues are resolved.

Meanwhile, Seplat has announced that the Federal High Court in Abuja has formally struck out the criminal charge brought by the Nigeria Immigration Service against the company and some of its Officers, adding that the Court has fully discharged all named defendants.

“The Charge was filed earlier by the Nigeria Immigration Service on 20th April, 2023 (RNS Number: 9385W). It was about the immigration status of Seplat’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Roger Brown and the withdrawal of his immigration visa by the Ministry of Interior,” the statement said.

The Company had previously announced that it has submitted all required documentation to the immigration authorities and continues cooperating with them.