· Want CAC to speed up CAMA’s implementation
Civil society organisations (CSOs) have asked the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the National Assembly and the Presidency to resolve all contentious issues contained in the amended Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020.
The CSOs, also, urged the CAC to rigorously implement the relevant provisions of the CAMA 2020 relating to the establishment of the beneficial ownership register, including adopting appropriate regulations to give full effect to them.
They made these recommendations at a public consultation on the establishment of Beneficial Ownership Register enshrined in the CAMA 2020 in Ikeja on Thursday.
Among others, the CSOs comprise Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Open Government Partnership Secretariat and African Centre for Leadership and Strategic Development.
During the public consultation, Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Rafsanjani observed that responsible institutions such as the CAC, National Assembly and Presidency should resolve all contentious issues in the amended law.
Rafsanjani said: “We were already facing sanctions from the European Union for the inexistence of anti-money laundering legislation.
“While we see and hear of prosecutions of individuals and entities involved in the #panamapapers leaks and the #wikileaks among others, there seems to be no legal framework that enables the convictions of all that was involved from Nigeria.
“Aside from the fear of the international community, concealing the beneficial owners costs the lives of our fellow countrymen. For instance, terrorists use international financial systems to sustain their operations.
“Without transparent ownership of Nigerian and international companies operating within Nigeria, we will not be able to stop the bleeding through illicit financial outflows which is perpetually on a geometric progressive increase year on year, which costs us annually $17 billion with emphasis on the backbone of our economy, the oil and gas industry.
“As long as wrong incentives and dysfunctional supervision dominate our national financial systems, consequences in the form of terrorism financing, trans-national organized crime, tax evasion and illegal enrichment of politically exposed persons will prevail,” Rafsanjani observed.
In a two-page communique issued after the public consultation, the CSOs said the CAC should rigorously implement the relevant provisions of the CAMA relating to the establishment of the beneficial ownership register.
The communique, also, said the CAC and other relevant authorities should ensure that the openness as well as public availability and accessibility of the register is given legal backing by the adoption of an appropriate legal instrument, which should at a minimum be in the form of regulations.
It added 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 regulations should be developed through a consultative and participatory process involving key stakeholder groups like the private sector, the media, and civil society.”
The communique urged the OGP Secretariat “to 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.
“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.
“The CAC should consider constituting a group of experts with diverse relevant competencies, drawn from different sectors to assist it in the establishment of the register, and should hold regular public consultations to solicit and receive comments, inputs and feedback from the wider public.
“The CAC should ensure that any unique identifiers system installed for the register is interoperable with those of other agencies with similar online platforms.”