The Nigerian government has revoked Visa and Residence Permit of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr. Roger Brown, over allegations of racism, favouring of foreign workers and discrimination against Nigerian employees levelled against him by employees of the company.
The federal government equally accused Brown of being in possession of a Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC) not based on a valid Expatriate Quota. It was also alleged that Brown failed to honour invitations by the Ministry’s panel, which investigated the matter.
The revocation was contained in a March 3, 2023, letter to the Board Chairman of Seplat Energy Plc by the Minister of Internal Affairs, which was obtained at the Federal High Court Lagos, where some concerned stakeholders, today, Thursday, March 9, 2023, instituted a legal proceeding against Seplat in this respect.
The letter was entitled, “Withdrawal of Work Permit, CERPAC, Visa/Residence Permit of Mr. Roger Thompson Brown – CEO, SEPLAT Energy Plc”
It stated: “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“Consequently, the Ministry has withdrawn the Work Permit CERPAC, Visa, Residence Permit and all relevant documents that authorised Mr.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.
Meanwhile, Seplat’s board of directors has clearly stated that the allegations are false and were made in reaction to the board’s efforts to enforce corporate governance standards.
In a statement made available to PUNCH, the board also revealed that Roger Brown will continue to carry out his duties from the company’s UK office. The board further emphasized that Brown has had an unblemished record of service and leadership in the company over the past decade.
The statement reads: “Seplat Energy Plc has become aware of a news report following a letter regarding the residency status of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Roger Brown.
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 staged media reports are clearly designed to disseminate incorrect information. Seplat Energy will work with the Minister to dispel the misconceptions that these claims have produced.
“The Board thinks that these claims are a frivolous and vengeful reaction to the implementation of corporate governance norms in the Company by the Board of Seplat Energy.
“During the last decade, Mr. Brown has established an impeccable record of service and leadership in the Business. Mr. Brown, who continues to fulfill his duties and responsibilities as CEO from the SEPLAT UK office, received a unanimous vote of confidence from the Board of Seplat Energy on March 8, 2023.”
Seplat Energy further promised to engage with the Ministry to reject the impressions created by these allegations.