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Seplat crisis worsens as another director, Fabian Ajogwu quits

A senior advocate of Nigeria, Ajogwu has served as an independent non-executive director of the oil and gas company listed on both the London and Nigerian Stock Exchanges since 2021.

A source familiar with the matter said Ajogwu’s resignation may be connected with external interference with the affairs of the company.
The source, according TheCable, said recent events and deliberate external interference have allegedly prevented Ajogwu from continuing the discharge of his fiduciary and statutory duties as an independent non-executive director to the highest standards of corporate governance.

“Ajogwu, a foremost Professor of Corporate Governance and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), cited unwholesome conduct by some people external to Seplat, but nonetheless resolved to negatively distract the Board of Seplat thereby militating against the smooth operations of the company,” the source said.

“His arrival on the board in July 2021 saw him bring the benefit of corporate governance experience from his works and teachings, including the benefit of having drafted Nigeria’s pioneer code of corporate governance, chaired NCC telecoms Code and assisted with the National Code of Corporate Governance as a member.

“It is understood that he will remain a Board member until October 2023.”

On March 3, 2023, the federal government had revoked the visa, resident permit, and work permit of Roger Brown, chief executive officer of Seplat, following allegations bordering on racism by aggrieved stakeholders of the company.

Brown subsequently stepped down from his position after an ex-parte order that stopped him from functioning as the CEO of the organisation.

The federal government also filed a four-count charge against Seplat Energy at a federal high court in Abuja, over an alleged breach of extant provisions of the Immigration Act, 2015.

Brown; Basil Omiyi, board chairman; Edith Onwuchekwa, company secretary/legal counsel; as well as independent directors Fabian Ajogwu, Rabiu Bello, Emma Fitzgerald, Charles Okeahalam, Bashirat Odunewu, were also charged.

In the suit marked FHC/AB/CR/149/2023, the defendants were accused of conspiring among themselves to allow Brown to accept employment as chief executive officer at Seplat Energy Plc “without the consent of the comptroller-general of immigration”.

Giving updates on the lawsuit, on Thursday, Omiyi quoted the notice of withdrawal as saying all the proceedings in the charge were withdrawn.

Omiyi also said the Lagos federal high court had also vacated the ex parte interim orders against himself, Seplat, and Brown.

Commenting on the development, Make a Difference Initiative (MADI), a civil society and good governance advocacy group, asked the federal government to resist the pressure to discontinue the suit filed against Seplat Energy Plc and Brown.

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