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Again, Aggrieved Shareholders Seek to Withdraw Suit against Seplat

Less than one week after the aggrieved minority shareholders of Seplat Energy PLC filed a notice of discontinuance at the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking to withdraw their suit against the company and its management, they have also filed a similar application at the Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo.

The minority shareholders in their notice of discontinuance, served on the defendants yesterday, urged the court to strike out the suit since they have no intention to continue with further hearing of the suit.

The aggrieved shareholders had in a suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/626/2023 filed by Juliet Ebere Nwadi Gbaka, Margaret Awobusuyi Funmilayo and Clement Akaeme as 1st to 3rd plaintiffs respectively alleged that the 2nd to 10th defendants mismanaged and breached the company’s corporate governance documents.

Also joined in the suit are the  Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Datamax Registrars Limited and PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited as 11th to 14th defendants respectively.

The suit was scheduled to come up yesterday for hearing of the pending applications, which includes the defendants’ motion for stay of execution as well as a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.

However, the matter could not proceed as scheduled as the court did not sit.

The matter was thereafter rescheduled by the Registrar of the court, with the consent of counsel to return on June 22, 2023 for hearing.

Meanwhile, the petitioners have served the defendants Mmotion to discontinue the suit.

Recall that Justice Inyang Ekwo had in an ex-parte order suspended the Managing Director, Mr. Roger Brown, Board Chairman, Mr. Basil Omiyi and  directors and secretary of the Board of Seplat Energy Plc, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice filed by three aggrieved shareholders.

The court also gave an order compelling SEC to constitute and appoint suitable persons to run the affairs of the oil company, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the shareholders.

Dissatisfied, Seplat Energy appealed against the ruling before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, and prayed the appellate court to set aside the ruling of the lower court in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/626/2023.

The ex-parte application with Appeal No: CA/ABJ/PRE/CV/534MI/2023 was filed by Seplat’s team of lawyers led by D.D. Dodo, Bode Olanipekun and Audu Anuga, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).

The appellant/applicant had moved a motion ex-parte dated and filed on May 12, 2023 to suspend the ruling of the lower court in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/626/2023.

The Appeal Court in granting the ex-parte application consequently adjourned the matter to May 30, 2023 for hearing of the motion on notice.

Recall that the aggrieved minority shareholders of the company had last week filed an application at the Federal High Court in Lagos to withdraw their suit against the company, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Roger Brown, and the Chairman, Board of Directors, Mr. Basil Omiyi, over alleged racism.

They had alleged that Brown was that he running the affairs of the company in an illegal, unfairly prejudicial and oppressive manner.

They equally sought orders restraining the Managing Director and Independent Non-Executive Directors of the company from allegedly running its affairs unfairly.

But surprisingly, at the resumed hearing of the substantive their counsel, Mr. Ayodele Arotiowa informed the court that his clients wanted to withdraw the suit, adding that they were no longer willing to continue with the case.

Consequently, in his ruling, Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke struck out the suit and ordered the petitioners to pay N1 million to the second and third respondents.

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