Seplat Energy PLC has announced the termination of the appointment of Austin Avuru as a Non-executive Director of the company.
Edith Onwuchekwa, Director, Legal and Company Secretary at Seplat, announced this in a corporate filing on Thursday, 23 December, 2021.
This is coming a month after Bryant Orjiako, Chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, said he will step down from his position in 2022.
Onwuchekwa said the board approved Avuru’s termination on Wednesday, 22 December, 2021 due to “breaches of the company’s corporate governance policies and his fiduciary duties”.
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 his 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.
He was the pioneer Managing Director of Seplat before he moved to become the CEO.
However,Perchstone & Graeys, law firm representing Austin Avuru, says the allegations levelled against him by Seplat Energy Plc are aimed at “damaging his hard-earned reputation”.
The firm said this in a statement issued on Thursday and signed by Osaro Eghobamien and Folabi Kuti, its lawyers
Speaking on the development, the law firm said the sack announcement was made without giving Avuru the chance to respond to the allegations.
“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,” the statement issued by the law firm reads.
“By the publication, Seplat Energy announced the termination of the contract of appointment of our client as its Non-Executive Director on December 22, 2021 due to alleged breaches of the Company’s corporate governance policies and his fiduciary duties, and further called for his resignation as a director of Seplat Energy.
“Our client has taken a dignified position on the issues leading to the ill-advised action. 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 6pm, 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.
“The Company’s ostensible intent to terminate the services of our client and the subsequent publication was simply to play to public gallery. Its real object was to do incalculable damage to our client’s hard-earned reputation.”
The law firm further urged members of the public to disregard Seplat’s publication.
“We will immediately respond to the fictitious allegations and reserve our client’s rights,” the statement adds.
“The general public is hereby advised to discountenance Seplat Energy’s publication of December 23, 2021.”