A group of civil society organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders have urged the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to thoroughly implement the relevant provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 relating to the establishment of the Beneficial Ownership Register.

Development Diaries learnt that they made the call at a one-day public consultation on the establishment of the Beneficial Ownership Register by the new Act.

The consultation, which was attended by representatives of various stakeholder groups, including government, civil society and the media, was organised by Open Government Partnership (OGP) Nigeria, in partnership with the CAC, and supported by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Oxfam.

The amended CAMA, which replaces the 1990 CAMA, provides a robust framework for reforming identified onerous legal, regulatory and administrative bottlenecks which, for three decades, have made doing business in Nigeria substantially difficult.

While under the 1990 CAMA, the obligations to disclose beneficial interest was limited to where such interest was acquired in a public company, the amended CAMA does not make a distinction between disclosure required by a public company and a private company.

Sections 119 and 120 of CAMA 2020 provide that persons who hold significant control in any type of company are required to disclose particulars of such control to the relevant companies within seven days of acquiring such significant control.

The sections state that all affected companies must inform the CAC within one month of receipt of the information, disclose the information in their annual returns to the CAC and update their registers of members with the appropriate details.

It was noted in a communique signed by representatives of CISLAC, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), OGP, and African Centre for Leadership and Strategic Development (CentreLSD) that the CAC Registrar-General, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, emphasised that the register will be open and consistent with Nigeria’s OGP format.

In their recommendations, the participants urged the CAC and other relevant authorities to ensure that the openness and public availability and accessibility of the register is given legal backing.

‘That the regulations to be formulated by the CAC should draw from other existing legal instruments and frameworks such as Data Protection Regulation (2019) and Freedom of Information Act (2011)’, the communique read.

‘The regulations should be developed through a consultative and participatory process involving key stakeholder groups like the private sector, the media, and civil society.

‘That the OGP secretariat should work with relevant actors, including the CAC, to develop an appropriate communication strategy which should facilitate public awareness and enlightenment efforts, including proactively disseminating information to the public about all aspects and stages of the Beneficial Ownership Register initiative.

‘That the relevant authorities and the OGP secretariat should urgently put in place concrete plans to build the capacity of various stakeholder groups, including relevant government, regulatory and anti-corruption agencies as well as civil society and the media to use the register in the course of their work’.

They also urged the organisers of the consultation to encourage and enable more participation from the members of the public, calling on OGP Nigeria to establish mechanisms for public awareness on its activities in the country.

The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, the Civil Society Adviser of the OGP Nigeria Secretariat, Stanley Achonu, and the immediate past Co-chair of the National Steering Committee of OGP Nigeria, Edetaen Ojo, also attended the gathering.

Source: CISLAC

Photo source: CISLAC

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