A Federal Court of Appeal, sitting in Lagos, has set March 30th, 2023 as date to rule on the application seeking to set aside the interim ex-parte orders previously made by the court, stopping Mr Roger Brown, from parading himself as the Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy Plc.

This was outcome of the court proceedings that held on Thursday 23rd March 2023 at the Federal High Court, Lagos in the suit filed by some individuals against Seplat Energy Plc.

In the various submissions by different parties to the case, arguments were made by legal representatives of Petitioners/Respondents, and those of Respondent/Applicant.

In the course of the proceedings, the Petitioners/Respondents’ Counsel, Mr. J. C. Njikonye SAN, who led the team for the Petitioners/Respondents, informed the Court that there were two pending applications filed on behalf of the Petitioners/Respondents: (i) an application for interlocutory injunction filed on 8 March 2023, and (ii) an application for joinder filed on 20 March 2023 (“Joinder Application”).

He noted that the Respondents/Applicants have applications to set aside the interim orders of the Court made on 8 March 2023. He, however, submitted that the Joinder Application should take precedence.

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Responding on behalf of the 1st Respondent/Applicant, Mr. Bode Olanipekun, SAN, submitted that: (i) interim orders were granted against persons that were not parties to the suit, (ii) the interim orders were challenged on the basis that they were granted against non-parties to the suit, amongst other grounds, (iii) those persons who were not parties to the suit at the time the interim orders were granted have come to ask the Court to set aside the interim orders, (iv) appreciating that the interim orders should not have been sought and obtained against these persons, the Petitioners have now brought an application for joinder saying those persons are necessary parties, (v) despite being aware that those persons against whom the interim order were made in their absence are necessary parties, the Petitioners did not make these persons Respondents in the suit, obtained orders against them in their absence, knowing that they were necessary parties, and (vi) has now filed the Joinder Application after obtaining the interim orders.

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Mr. Olanipekun, SAN, submitted that the interim orders of the court had elapsed by the passage of time and if the Counsel to the Petitioners/Respondents concedes that the interim orders that had expired and needs the formal orders of the court to be set aside, the coast would be clear for him to make any further application.

On behalf of the 2nd Respondent/Applicant, Mr. Matthew Burkaa, SAN, aligned himself with the submissions of Mr. Olanipekun, SAN, and submitted further that: (i) the Joinder Application though dated 17 March 2023 and filed on 20 March 2023, was served on the 2nd Respondent/Applicant yesterday, 22 March 2023, (ii) for a party (the Petitioners) that had represented to the Court that there was an urgency and on this basis prayed for interim orders from the Court affecting an entire company (Seplat) to have filed an application of this nature and served it only a day prior to the date the matter was scheduled for hearing, is a conduct that the Court should take into consideration in setting aside the orders.\.

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The Court, Hon Justice Aneke, after listening to the argument of all the counsels including the argument of Mr. Charles Nwabulu, who held the brief of Mr. Omoruyi Omonuwa, OFR, SAN, Lead Counsel to the Parties Affected, the court agreed that with Respondents/Applicants that the Joinder Application was not ripe for hearing.

As a result, the court directed that all the Respondent/Applicants including the parties affected by the interim orders of the court should make their arguments on why the interim orders of the court should be set aside.

Following the directive of the Court, all the Respondents/Applicants including persons affected by the interim orders of the court argued their respective applications seeking to set aside the orders of the Court preventing, in the interim, Mr. Roger Brown from participating in the management of Seplat Energy.

The Petitioners responded after which the court adjourned the matter to 30th March 2023 for ruling on the application seeking to set aside the interim ex-parte orders previously made by the court.

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