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Nigeria files four count charges against Seplat Energy, CEO, 7 directors over violation of immigration law

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Nigeria has filed a four-count charge against Seplat Energy and eight of its directors at a federal high court in Abuja over an alleged breach of extant provisions of the Immigration Act, 2015.

The defendants in the case are the company’s chief executive officer (CEO), Roger Brown, the board chairman, Basil Omiyi, the company secretary and legal counsel, Edith Onwuchekwa as well as independent directors Fabian Ajogwu, Rabiu Bello, Emma Fitzgerald, Charles Okeahalam, and Bashirat Odunewu.

In the suit, marked FHC/AB/CR/149/2023, the defendants were accused of conspiring among themselves to allow Roger Brown to accept employment as chief executive officer at Seplat Energy Plc “without the consent of the comptroller-general of immigration, contrary to sections 36 (1)(a) and 71 of the Immigration Act, 2015, and punishable under sections 36 (2) and 71 (a) of the Immigration Act, 2015”.

They were also said to have conspired among themselves “to allow Roger Brown to take over the business as chief executive officer of Seplat Energy PLC without the consent of the minister of interior, contrary to Section 36 (1) (b) and punishable under Section 36 (2) and Section 105 of the Immigration Act 2015”.

The respondents were also charged with instigating, encouraging, and conspiring, through neglect on their part, by allowing Brown to accept employment as Seplat’s CEO after the withdrawal of his immigration documents, “contrary to sections 36, 71, and 105 of the Immigration Act, 2015, and punishable under sections 36(2) and 105(1) of the Immigration Act, 2015.”

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“That you… refused to make an application to the comptroller-general of immigration for his permission before employing Roger Thompson Brown both as chief finance officer and chief executive officer of Seplat Energy PLC, contrary to Section 38(1) of the Immigration Act, 2015, and punishable under Section 38(5) of the Immigration Act, 2015,” the charge reads.

On March 3, the federal government revoked his visa, resident permit, and work permit of Brown, following allegations of racism, favoring foreign workers, and discriminating against Nigerian employees by aggrieved stakeholders of the company.

Seplat Energy refuted the accusations, saying “on March 8, 2023, the board of Seplat Energy unanimously passed a vote of confidence in Brown, who continues to discharge his duties and responsibilities as CEO from the SEPLAT UK office.”

But the company said on March 10 that Brown stepped down from his position following an ex-parte order stopping him from identifying himself as CEO of the company.

Last week, a federal high court in Lagos vacated the interim ex-parte order.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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