Seplat Energy refutes racism allegations against its CEO

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Seplat Energy Plc on Wednesday denied racism allegations made against its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Roger Brown.

The company in a statement on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) claimed that the allegations were orchestrated and clearly calculated to spread false information.  

A report revealed that the Nigerian government had revoked the work permit, Visa and Residence Permit of the Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy over allegations of racism.

The revocation was contained in a letter written to the Board Chairman of Seplat Energy Plc by the Minister of Internal Affairs, dated March 3, 2023.

Brown, according to the letter, was accused by his workers of favouring foreign workers and discriminating against Nigerian employees.

However, the Independent Chairman, on behalf of the entire Board of Seplat Energy, Mr. Basil Omiyi in a statement explained that, “Seplat Energy wishes to refute the false allegations against Mr. Brown, which have been presented to the Ministry of Interior and the public by certain petitioners, and which have not been brought to the attention of Mr. Roger Brown or Seplat Energy for a reaction.

“The orchestrated media reports are clearly calculated to spread false information. Seplat Energy will be engaging with the Ministry to reject the impressions created by these allegations.

“The Board believes that these allegations are a spurious and vindictive reaction to the enforcement of corporate governance standards in the Company by the Board of Seplat Energy.

“Over the past decade, Brown has earned an unblemished record of service and leadership in the Company. On 8th March 2023, the Board of Seplat Energy unanimously passed a vote of confidence in Mr. Brown, who continues to discharge his duties and responsibilities as CEO from the Seplat UK office.

“This announcement is made pursuant to Rule 17.10 of the Rulebook of the Nigerian Exchange, 2015 (Issuer’s Rule).”

According to the report, Brown allegedly failed several times to honour invitations by the ministry’s panel, which investigated the matter.

Titled, “Withdrawal of Work Permit, CERPAC, Visa/Residence Permit of Mr. Roger Thompson Brown – CEO, SEPLAT Energy Plc,” the letter reads: “I write to inform you that the Ministry is in receipt of a petition from the Solicitor to the concerned workers and stakeholders of Seplat Energy PLC accusing Mr. Rogers Thomson Brown, the CEO of the companies of various allegations.

“These accusations include racism, favouring foreign workers and discriminating against Nigerian employees. Testimony was received from several witnesses, which supported the allegations. Mr. Roger T. Brown declined to attend despite two invitations, claiming to be unavailable even though we learnt he was in Abuja for other purposes at the time.

“Investigation and records in the Ministry also revealed that Mr. Roger Brown was in possession of CERPAC that was not based on validly issued Expatriate Quota approved by the Ministry of Interior resulting to the violation of relevant Immigration Laws and Regulations. As a result of these, the Honourable Minister has determined that Mr. Brown’s continued stay in Nigeria is contrary to national interest.

“Consequently, the Ministry has withdrawn the Work Permit CERPAC, Visa, Residence Permit and all relevant documents that authorised Mr. Roger Thomson Brown’s entry or stay in Nigeria,” the letter stated.

Brown, a British, joined Seplat in 2013, as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and was made the company’s CEO in November 2019, but effectively assumed the office in 2020.    

Following the violation of Nigerian laws, some concerned stakeholders, according to the report took legal action against the company.

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