By Adewale Sanyaolu
The Boardroom crises rocking one of the most successful indigenous oil and gas company, Seplat Energy Plc, is far from over as the lawyer to the sacked non-Executive Director and pioneer Managing Director, Mr. Austin Avuru, has described the allegations against his client as fictitious.
Avuru in a statement by his lawyer, Osaro Eghobamien, (SAN) and Folabi Kuti (SAN) of Perchstone and Graeys, said the general public should discredit the sack announced by Seplat which was designed to ‘malign’ his person.
“Our attention has been drawn to a publication issued by Seplat Energy Plc. (Seplat Energy/ the Company) on December 23, 2021, clearly designed to malign Mr Austin Avuru (our client), and well-circulated on both the mainstream and social media,” Avuru’s lawyer said.
The Board of Seplat Energy Plc, had last Wednesday, terminated Avuru’s appointment as a non-executive director of the company over what it described as “breaches of the company’s corporate governance policies and his fiduciary duties”.
Edith Onwuchekwa, Director, Legal and Company’s Secretary at Seplat, had announced the sack in a corporate filing last Thursday.
The development is coming a month after Bryant Orjiako, Chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, said he would exit his position in 2022.
The statement, further added that Platform Petroleum Limited, which operates as an integrated oil and gas production, processing, and marketing chain, would nominate a candidate that will serve in Avuru’s stead.
“In line with Seplat Energy’s Memorandum and Articles of Association, Platform Petroleum Limited has been asked to nominate a candidate for his replacement on the board, and a further announcement will be made in due course,” the statement reads.
Austin Avuru had retired as founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc on July 31, 2020, but had remained on the board as a non-executive director.
Avuru’s lawyer, however, exonerates him from the accusations by the company and said it is a plot to damage his reputation.
“Our client has taken a dignified position on the issues leading to the ill-advised action,” his lawyers said.
“This is clearly evidenced by Seplat Energy’s letter dated January 9, 2021, confirming our client’s dignified position, and urging our client to act with confidentiality, which is customary to our client’s impeccable character. In a dramatic summersault and by letter dated December 22, 2021, received by our client at about 6 pm, Seplat Energy purports to terminate the appointment of our client from the Board.
“This was followed by a public announcement the next morning without as much even giving our client the opportunity to respond to a letter, content of which were otherwise grossly mischievous.”
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