MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
A group consisting of shareholders with major stake in Nigeria’s indigenous oil giant, Seplat Energy has vouched for the authenticity, sanctity and correctness of the company’s half-year results, which reported stellar performance.
The group, Eagle Eye shareholders of Seplat Energy, also expressed confidence in the management’s capability to deliver superior returns and place the organization on the path of sustainable growth.
The move by Eagle Eye shareholders is coming on the heel of unfounded and infantile allegations by a few shareholders against the dual-listed firm on its half-year results that ended June 2023.
In a statement, Eagle Eye shareholders described the purported joint press conference by the leader of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Mr. Moses Igbrude, and one Lemmy Ughegbe said to be the Executive Director of Make A Difference Initiative (MADI) as a platform to regurgitate stale and erroneous allegations against Seplat. “The exercise is a continuation of the recent onslaught of series of baseless allegations and ill-motivated lawsuits against Seplat Energy and its Chief Executive Officer Mr. Roger Brown”, it added.
The shareholders group emphasized that “As representatives of the Majority shareholders of Seplat Energy, we are appalled by this renewed media offensive, after a seeming truce ostensibly occasioned by the reversal suffered in the law courts, by this group of individuals led by Mr. Moses Igbrude but apparently being aided and abetted by a former major shareholder of the company”.
A major plank of the posturing of Igbrude and his co-travelers is the claim that Seplat spent $19.4m on legal fees and the unconscionable demand for a probe and the sack of the Board.
We consider it a travesty that Mr. Igbrude whose initial sponsored petition introduced the flurry of false and orchestrated allegations against Seplat, its CEO, and its Directors/Officers, still have the temerity to be grandstanding.
The group further asserted that it is noteworthy that Igbrude’s obvious lies and deception, formed the basis of the initial regrettable actions taken by the Ministry of Interior and the criminal charge brought against Seplat and its officers, which was promptly withdrawn by the Nigerian Immigration Service, while Seplat and its officers were entirely discharged by the Federal High Court (Abuja) in April 2023.
According to the group “It is also an irony that Igbrude and his cohorts will be talking glibly about the provision for legal fees made in the company’s Half Year report when they were the same people who ignited an avalanche of lawsuits that necessitated the need for Seplat to defend its hard-earned reputation and the high integrity of its officials. The chicanery, which the cases evinced, just like this recent joint press conference, offended civilized conduct even as it stretched freedom of expression to an absurd limit”.
“As representatives of the majority shareholders”, the statement continued, “we were alarmed that a company in which we have made a significant investment and from which we derive ample returns will be unduly maligned and castigated in public by a clique of 13 minority shareholders holding less than 800 shares out of 589m shares (0.0001% of the company’s issued shares)”.
Seplat’s half-year results showed strong cash generation of $259 million and moreover demonstrated continued operational excellence and resilience as evidenced by an unrivaled safety record having now clocked up a commendable 4.2 million hours without a Lost Time Injury.
It is clear from the excellent results for the first half of 2023 that Seplat has put its recent travails behind it, delivering good returns despite the distractions faced as a handful of shareholders orchestrated jumped-up allegations against the company and its leaders and successfully defended.
A future assured company, of which every well-meaning shareholder should be proud of, Seplat extended the Share Sale and Purchase Agreement (SSPA) for the acquisition of ExxonMobil’s share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) to preserve the transaction. Evidently, revenues rose by 3.8% to $547.0m (including overlight of $504m on improved production, offset by lower oil price, cash generation of $259.1m, funding capex of $80.8m and improved shareholder returns. The company’s balance sheet remains strong with $381.0m cash at the bank, despite the impact of the devaluation of the Naira on USD cash balances.
That ISAN and MADI or people acting at their behest, as disgruntled minority shareholders, would disparage such a high-performing company beggars belief. Their desperation also led them to query the noble intention of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) as well as the Federal Government in toeing the path of fairness and patriotism. We urge the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and other responsible government agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to roundly ignore Igbrude and his likes whose penchant of crying wolf where there is none is becoming legendary.
The Eagle Eye shareholders of Seplat Energy, further restated its “unwavering confidence in the Board and Management of Seplat Energy. We state categorically that the action of Igbrude and his fellow litigants was ill-motivated with the intention of diminishing the value of Seplat Energy, which has by its consistent superlative performance, remains at the apex of the best-performing company in Nigeria”.