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Seplat Energy Asks Appeal Court to Set Aside Ex Parte Order Suspending Nine of Its Officials

It said the lower court lacks jurisdiction and the order contradicts CAMA process for removing directors.

Seplat Energy Plc, has asked the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, to set aside the judgement of Justice I. E. Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja which on Thursday granted an ex parte interim order suspending nine of its officials, pending the determination of a motion on notice.
The suspended officials are Roger Brown, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Seplat Energy; Basil Omiyi, Board Chairman; Emma Fitzgerald, Charles Okeahalam, Fabian Ajogwu, Rabiu Bello, Bashirat Odenewu, independent non-executive directors; Edith Onwuchekwa, Company Secretary; and Samuel Ezeugwuorie, Chief Operating Officer.

Justice Ekwo had in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/626/2023 instituted by Juliet Gbaka and two others against Seplat Energy Plc and 13 others granted ex parte Interim orders which restrained the Board Chairman, the named Independent Non-Executive Directors, the Chief Operating Officer and the Company Secretary from operating or functioning as officers of Seplat Energy in any capacity or otherwise conducting the affairs of the company.

However, Seplat in its Notice of Appeal filed at the registry of the Federal High Court is praying the Appellate Court to allow the appeal and set aside the decision of the lower court made on May 11, 2023.

The Appellant stated that the Lower Court erred in law and occasioned grave injustice against the Appellant when it made an Order on the 11 May, 2023 that affects the Appellant adversely despite the fact that the Court lacks jurisdiction and that the suit was an abuse of court process and there was a pending motion to that effect before the orders were granted.

Seplat stated that an earlier filed petition with suit No-FHC/ABJ/PET/8/2023 is pending before the same Judge and his Lordship had already refused to grant the same ex parte order in that suit which has now been subsequently granted in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/626/2023. The facts of suit number FHC/ABJ/PET/8/2023 had been brought to the attention of the court.

The Appellant stated that in a Motion on Notice dated 10th May 2023, it challenged the jurisdiction of the court, and that the lower court had a duty to first determine the motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court in one way or the other.

According to Seplat’s external Counsel, Mr. Bode Olanipekun SAN, the interim orders were obtained by three shareholders who cumulatively have about 161 shares (about 0.00027%) out of over 500 million issued shares of the company.

He stated that before the interim orders were obtained, there was a pending motion on notice by which Seplat challenged the court’s jurisdiction.
Subsequent to the grant of the interim orders, Seplat filed an appeal. Its directors have also filed appeals and motions for stay of execution at the Federal High Court.

Olanipekun noted that there are special procedures for the removal of directors of a company under CAMA and that it was not the basis for the removal of Seplat’s directors in this instance.

He asked all parties to allow the judicial process to take its course.
Three aggrieved stakeholders – Juliet Gbaka, Margaret Funmilayo, and Clement Akaeme – filed the motion, in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/626/23.

Bennett Oghifo

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