The Abuja division of Appeal Court, today, granted an ex-parte application filed by Seplat Energy seeking to suspend the ruling of Justice Inyang Ekwo of an Abuja division of the Federal High Court, which suspended the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Roger Brown and others.
By this ruling the Appellate court has restored the affected Seplat officers to their positions.
Justice Ekwo, in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/626/2023, had made an ex-parte order, suspended the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Brown, and company’s Board Chairman, Mr. Basil Omiyi, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction filed by some aggrieved shareholders of the company.
Dissatisfied with Justice Ekwo’s ruling, Seplat Energy on May 15, 2023 by its team of lawyers led my Mr. D.D Dodo, (SAN); Bode Olanipekun (SAN) and Audu Anuga (SAN) urged the Appellate court to suspend the interim Ex-parte orders.
The Appellant in its further affidavit In Support of the Motion to stay execution of the orders, deposed to by Adoga Moses, a Litigation Clerk, in the employment of Wole Olanipekun & Co., stated that out of 588,444,561 issued shares of the appellant/applicant, the plaintiffs at the lower court have cumulative shares of 131 units.
He noted that the first plaintiff has 100 units of shares whilst the 2nd and 3rd plaintiffs have 31 and 30 units respectively.
According to the deponent ‘’the cumulative percentage shareholding of the plaintiffs who have obtained disruptive orders against the applicant amounts to 0.00002736 percent.
‘’The action of the plaintiffs and the orders granted by the lower court have the implication of diminishing the share value of the applicant, who has dual listings on the Nigerian and London Stock exchanges as well as cause panic in the capital market and reduce investor confidence.
Even before the orders of the lower court were served, same had been given wide publicity across various news outlets. Now shown to me, attached hereto and marked as Exhibits 10, 11 and 12 are copies of news reports with global reach relating to the orders of ex parte injunction granted by the lower court.
‘’The applicant is at the risk of irreparable damage to its brand, business, investor equity, contractual and statutory obligations if the orders sought are not granted.
‘’It is in the interest of justice to grant this application and the balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant”.
Ruling on the application the Appellate Court comprising Justices Muhammad Mustapha, (Presided), Justice J.G. Abundaga, and Justice D.Z. Senchi, suspended the enforcement of the Ex-parte orders granted by Justice Ekwo, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated May 12, 2023 and or pending further directives of the court.
The Court has consequently adjourned the matter to May 30, 2023 for hearing of the Seplat Energy’s Motion on Notice.
A statement from Seplat Energy reiterated that as “previously announced, the Interim Orders were made pursuant to a petition which was the third in a series of duplicative petitions filed by minority shareholders between March and April 2023. The Interim Orders primarily restrained the Board Chairman, 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, and directed the Securities & Exchange Commission to appoint suitable persons to run the affairs of the Company”.
The statement signed by the Chairman, Mr. Basil Omiyi, reads: “Seplat Energy remains confident that the courts will appropriately address the frivolous litigations brought by a combination of 13 minority shareholders holding less than 800 shares out of 589 million shares (or 0.0001% of the Company’s issued shares). It added that “The Company, as a law-abiding entity, has defended itself against the Interim Orders by immediately filing an Appeal and a Motion for Stay of Execution of the Orders”. Seplat is poised to diligently continue to defend against deliberate court actions and remains confident and hopeful that the courts will appropriately address unending litigations on it.
Seplat Energy Plc is Nigeria’s leading indigenous energy company. It is listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited and the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. Seplat Energy is pursuing a Nigeria-focused growth strategy through participation in asset divestments by international oil companies, farm-in opportunities, and future licensing rounds. The Company is a leading supplier of gas to the domestic power generation market.