Alleged Breach of Immigration Act: FG files criminal charges against Seplat, Roger Brown, Omiyi, others
The Federal Government has filed criminal charges against Seplat Energy PLC; the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Roger Brown; Board Chairman, Mr Basil Omiyi, for alleged breach of extant provisions of the Immigration Act 2015.
Others also charged by the FG are Independent Non-Executive Directors (INED) Dr Charles Okeahalam, Mrs Bashirat Odunewu, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, Mr Rabiu Bello, Ms Emma Fitzgerald, and Company Secretary/Legal Counsel, Mrs Edith Onwuchekwa.
In suit No. FHC/AB/CR/149/2023 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on April 6, the FG accused the defendants of allowing Mr Brown to accept employment as the CEO of Seplat Energy PLC without the statutory approval of the Controller-General of Immigration.
The charges read in part: “Conspiring among yourselves to allow Mr Brown take over the business as CEO of Seplat Energy PLC without the consent of the Minister of Interior, allowing Mr Roger Brown, a non-Nigerian to accept employment as CEO of Seplat after withdrawal of his visa, resident and work permits, and for refusing to apply for the Comptroller-General of Immigration’s approval before employing Mr Brown both as Chief Finance Officer and CEO, contrary to the provisions of the Immigration 2015.
The four-count charge further read: “That you on or before the 9th day of March 2023 at Seplat Energy PLC Head Office 16 A Temple Road Oluholloway Ikoyi Lagos, within the Jurisdiction of the Honourable Court, did conspire among yourselves to allow Mr Roger Brown accept employment as CEO at Seplat Energy PLC without the consent of the Comptroller General of Immigration, contrary to Section 36 (1)(a) and 71 of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 36 (2) and Section 71 (a) of the Immigration Act 2015.
“That you did conspire among yourselves to allow Mr Roger Brown to take over the business as Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy PLC without the consent of the Minister of Interior, contrary to Section 36 (1) (b) and punishable under Section 36 (2) and Section 105 of the Immigration Act 2015.
“That you, on or before the 9th day of March 2023 at Seplat Energy PLC Head Office, 16 A Temple Road, Oluholloway, Ikoyi Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the court, you as director, secretary, members of the board of directors of Seplat Energy PLC as the case may be, did instigate, encourage, connive, by neglect on your part, allow Mr. Roger Thompson Brown, a non- Nigerian to accept employment as Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy PLC even after withdrawal of his immigration documents, contrary Sections 36, 71 and 105 of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Sections 36(2) 105(1) of the Immigration Act 2015.
“That you did refuse to make an application to the Comptroller-General of Immigration for his permission before employing Mr. Roger Thompson Brown both as Chief Finance Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy PLC, contrary to Section 38(1) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 38(5) of the Immigration Act 2015”.
No date has been fixed for arraignment.
The Federal Government had on March 3, revoked the visa, Resident Permit and Work Permit of Seplat’s CEO, Roger Brown, over alleged racist practices, discrimination against Nigerian employees at Seplat, favouring of expatriate workers, and breach of good governance codes.
It also alleged that Mr Brown refused to honour investigations invitations by the Ministry in the course of its investigation.
“As a result of these, the Minister has determined that Mr Brown’s continued stay in Nigeria is contrary to the national interest.
“Consequently, the Ministry has withdrawn the Work Permit CERPAC, Visa, Residence Permit and all relevant documents that authorized Mr Roger Thomson Brown’s entry or stay in Nigeria”.
In a swift reaction, Seplat Energy in a statement signed by the Board Chairman, Mr Basil Omiyi, said that the company had passed a vote of confidence on Mr Brown, who continues to discharge his duties and responsibilities as CEO from the Seplat office in UK”.