By Ejiro Joy
Mr. ABC Orjiako has bow to pressure and resigned as chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, a company he co-founded and funded optimally.
Seplat energy Plc announced this during the week following his intense battle with Zenith Bank over a $78 million debt.
Orjiako will exit in May 2022 after the company’s Annual General Meeting.
His resignation is just eight days after Zenith Bank Plc received an order from a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos blocking Seplat from transacting with him.
Justice Yellin Bogoro of the Federal High Court, Lagos made an interim order while granting ex-parte Mareva application filed by Zenith Bank Plc through its counsel, Mr. Kemi Balogun (SAN), in the case of an alleged $78,426,578.64 debt.
The case was against Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited and 8 others, with an additional 29 cited parties.
“The Interim Orders give an administrative mandate to Seplat Energy Plc and others not to deal with the assets of (or transfer funds to) Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited, Shebah Petroleum Development Company Limited and Dr. A.B.C. Orjiako.,” a statement by Seplat reads.
The restriction arose from a loan granted to Cardinal Drilling, and Kalu Nwosu, the former Managing Director of Cardinal Drilling by Zenith Bank back in 2014.
The case took a bad dimension when Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc suspended all transactions with the embattled businessman on November 12.
But Seplat said the Chairman’s decision to step down was voluntary.
The company said, “The Seplat Energy Chairman’s decision to step down and be replaced by an Independent Chairperson is a testament to the strong corporate governance and best practices he instilled in the Board.
“Dr Orjiako notified the Board of Directors of his decision Wednesday, November 17, 2021. In order to facilitate an orderly transition Dr Orjiako will remain as Chairman till the next Annual General Meeting in May 2022, when an Independent Chairperson will take over.”
Orjiako, who confirmed he was stepping down in the statement said he will actively participate and contribute to the company till May 2022.
He said, “The past twelve years at Seplat Energy have been exhilarating for me. As Chairman, I am proud that the Board, Management and entire Staff of Seplat Energy were able to achieve several enviable milestones and exceptional successes, notably the acquisition of eight oil and gas assets, expansion of the Oben and development of the ANOH gas plants and the dual listing on both the Nigerian and London Stock Exchanges – a first by a Nigerian company.
“While there were challenges along the way, we overcame these by the special grace of God, the outstanding performance and professionalism of each member of the Board and Management, and the sterling efforts of our staff. I will continue to give my utmost energy and commitment to the Company until I step down from the Board at the next AGM.”
A Senior Independent Director of Seplat, Basil Omiyi, said Orjiako’s dedication to the company has been immense.
He said, “He has been Chairman during both exciting and challenging times, and his dedication has been constant throughout. The Board and Management look forward to working with him during the transition period and we will miss his insight, expertise and leadership when he finally steps down in May,” Omiyi said.