Racism: Roger Brown steps down as Seplat CEO, hands over to COO

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Embattled CEO of Seplat Energy Plc, Roger Brown has stepped down from the position following a ruling of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Chairman of the Board of Seplat, Basil Omiyi confirmed this in a statement he personally signed on Friday.

Omiyi said that Brown would not participate in the running of the company for the next seven days as ordered by Justice C. J. Aneke of the Federal High Court.

He added that Brown has delegated authority to the Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Samson Ezugwore, to act as CEO during this period.

Justice Aneke had ordered Brown to stop parading himself as Seplat CEO pending the determination of a suit filed against him and others by aggrieved stakeholders of the company.

The Herald had reported that some aggrieved stakeholders in the company had levelled allegations of racism, favouring of foreign workers and discrimination against Nigerian employees against him.

The aggrieved stakeholders instituted a suit marked FHC/L/402/2023 against the company boss.

It was further reported that the Minister of Interior, through a letter dated March 3, 2023, revoked Brown’s work permit, visa and residence permit, after he allegedly shunned invitations by the ministry’s panel which investigated the matter.

“Seplat Energy Plc reports that on March 9, 2023, it was served with court processes and ex-parte Interim Order of the Hon Justice C. J. Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, Nigeria, restraining the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Roger Brown from participating in the running of the Company for a period of 7 days.

“The interim orders are premised on allegations of unfair, prejudicial, and offensive acts by the Chairman, CEO and all of the Independent Non-Executive Directors (INEDs) of Seplat Energy.

“The allegations include that the CEO organised a site visit for a number of its major shareholders to the Company’s operations, cancelled some catering and landscaping contracts, and introduced a new job performance rating.

“Seplat Energy refutes the allegations and notes that since Mr. Brown became CEO in 2020, Nigerian nationals have been appointed to the company’s most important positions, including Chairman, Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating officer.

“The Board believes these allegations are a spurious and vindictive reaction to the Board’s enforcement of corporate governance standards and a determination to continue to uphold their fiduciary duties and loyalty to the Company. The Board of Seplat Energy has unanimously passed a vote of confidence in Mr Brown as the CEO,” Omiyi’s statement read in part.

He added, “The injunction was filed by Messrs. Moses Igbrude, Sarat Kudaisi, Kenneth Nnabike, Ajani Abidoye and Robert Ibekwe, who purport to have shares in Seplat Energy Plc.

“Seplat will follow the due processes of law in responding to the allegations before the courts. At the same time, the Company will continue to maintain its operational excellence and act in line with the best corporate governance standards.”

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