Shareholders differ on Seplat legal fee probe


Seplat Energy

Eagle Eye shareholders, a group representing shareholders with majority stake in Nigeria’s indigenous energy company, Seplat Energy Plc, has countered calls to probe the affairs of the company over the surge in its legal fees.

It moved against the calls by the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, and a civil society organisation, Make A Difference Initiative.

The counterclaim of the Eagle Eye Shareholders was contained in a statement made available to  on Wednesday, which also expressed confidence in the management of the firm.

In its half-year report, Seplat said its “General and administrative expenses amounted to $65.8m, 42.0 per cent higher than the G&A costs of $46.4m incurred in 6M 2022. This increase in G&A costs was mainly due to professional fees associated with the litigation costs in response to the unprecedented and intense period of minority shareholder actions through the Courts and some costs associated with the MPNU transaction

“Excluding these exceptional items, G&A costs would have closed relatively flat compared to the previous year.”

From Seplat’s financial report, professional and consulting fees stood at N14.13bn at the end of June 2023 compared to N2.42bn in same period of 2022, marking a 484.24 per cent hike.

Eagle Eye shareholders described the joint press statement by the leader of ISAN, Moses Igbrude, and the Executive Director of MADI, Lemmy Ughegbe, as a platform to regurgitate stale and erroneous allegations against Seplat.

The statement said, “The exercise is a continuation of the recent onslaught of series of baseless allegations and ill-motivated lawsuits against Seplat Energy and its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Roger Brown.

“As representatives of the majority shareholders of Seplat Energy, we are appalled by this renewed media offensive, after a seeming truce ostensibly occasioned by the reversal suffered in the law courts, by this group of individuals being aided and abetted by a former major shareholder of the company.”

The reps of the majority shareholders added, “It is also an irony that Igbrude and his cohorts will be talking glibly about the provision for legal fees made in the company’s half year report when they were the same people who ignited an avalanche of lawsuits that necessitated the need for Seplat to defend its hard-earned reputation and the high integrity of its officials.

“As representatives of the majority shareholders, we were alarmed that a company in which we have made a significant investment and from which we derive ample returns will be unduly maligned and castigated in public by a clique of 13 minority shareholders holding less than 800 shares out of 589m shares (0.0001 per cent of the company’s issued shares).”

The Eagle Eye shareholders of Seplat Energy, further restated its “unwavering confidence in the board and management of Seplat Energy. We state categorically that the action of Igbrude and his fellow litigants was ill-motivated with the intention of diminishing the value of Seplat Energy, which has by its consistent superlative performance, remains at the apex of the best-performing company in Nigeria.”

Seplat’s Chief Executive Office, Roger Brown, had faced allegations of racism, discrimination and improper immigration status in the first half of the year, which led to lawsuits and withdrawal of his working permit, combined expatriate residence permit and aliens card and other visas for the entry or stay in Nigeria, by the Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Immigration Service.

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