In a recent development, the Court of Appeal in Abuja has granted an ex parte application suspending the enforcement of interim court orders against Seplat Energy Plc and its officers.
These interim orders, granted by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court on May 11, were issued following a petition submitted by minority shareholders of the company between March and April 2023.
The primary purpose of the interim orders was to restrain the Board Chairman, Mr. Basil Omiyi; the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Roger Brown; the Chief Operating Officer, and the Company Secretary from performing any duties or functioning as officers of Seplat Energy, or engaging in any activities related to the company’s affairs.
Furthermore, the lower court directed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to appoint suitable individuals to oversee the company’s operations until the motion on notice, filed by the applicants, could be determined.
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Unsatisfied with the ruling, Seplat Energy, represented by its legal team, submitted an application to the appellate court on May 15, seeking the suspension of the interim ex parte orders.
In an affidavit supporting the motion, deposed by Adoga Moses, a litigation clerk at Wole Olanipekun & Co, it was revealed that the plaintiffs in the lower court possessed a cumulative total of 131 units of shares out of the 588,444,561 issued shares of Seplat Energy.
The first plaintiff held 100 units, while the second and third plaintiffs held 31 and 30 units, respectively.
Moses stated, “The cumulative percentage shareholding of the plaintiffs who have obtained disruptive orders against the applicant amounts to 0.00002736 percent.”
He further emphasized that the actions of the plaintiffs and the subsequent orders issued by the lower court had detrimental effects on the share value of Seplat Energy, which is dually listed on the Nigerian and London stock exchanges.
Additionally, he noted that the orders caused panic in the capital market and eroded investor confidence.
“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,” Moses added.
He argued that granting the application would serve the interests of justice and maintain the balance of convenience in favor of Seplat Energy.
Ruling on the application, a panel at the Court of Appeal, consisting of Justice Muhammad Mustapha, Justice James Abundaga, and Justice Danlami Senchi, suspended the enforcement of the ex parte orders granted by Justice Inyang Ekwo.
This suspension will remain in effect until the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated May 12, 2023, and/or until further directives from the court.
The court has adjourned the matter to May 30, 2023, for the hearing of the motion on notice, where further deliberations will take place regarding the interim orders and their implications for Seplat Energy Plc.