(Adds statement from Oando)
By Libby George and Alexis Akwagyiram
LONDON/LAGOS, June 3 (Reuters) – A federal court in Lagos on Monday blocked Nigeria’s financial watchdog from replacing Oando’s chief executive and taking other action against the oil firm, pending further hearings on the case, according to a court document seen by Reuters.
Nigeria’s Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) had set up an interim management team and ordered chief executive Wale Tinubu and others to resign following an investigation.
The SEC said it had found “certain infractions of securities and other relevant laws” during an investigation into the company. It had ordered that certain board members refund “improperly disbursed remuneration” and said unidentified individuals would have to pay financial penalties.
On Monday, a judge issued an injunction against the removals of Tinubu and of deputy chief executive Omamofe Boyo, barred the SEC’s appointed chief executive from taking over the company and blocked the imposition of a 91.125 million naira ($297,900) fine against Tinubu.
The court also blocked an SEC order barring Tinubu and Boyo from directing public companies for five years, pending further hearings on the company’s challenge to the SEC ruling.
It said the case was adjourned until June 14.
“Pursuant to the court order Oando’s management team and board of directors remain unchanged,” the company said in a statement, adding the injunction called on those involved to maintain the status quo.
The SEC had no immediate comment.
Tinubu told Reuters last week he was shocked by the SEC’s statement and that the charges were unsubstantiated and invalid.
Oando has evolved from a fuel retailer into a major indigenous oil producer competing with multinationals such as Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil in Nigeria.
$1 = 305.9200 naira
Reporting by Libby George in London and Alexis Akwagyiram in
Lagos; Editing by Mark Potter