CAC Advised to Collaborate with Stakeholders toEstablish Beneficial Ownership Register

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Alhaji Garba Abubakar, Registrar-General of the CAC
Alhaji Garba Abubakar, Registrar-General of the CAC

Participants at a one-day Public Consultation/Sensitization programme on the establishment of a Beneficial Ownership Register (BOR)have advised the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to constitute a group of experts and key stakeholder groups from the private sector, media and civil society to assist it in  establishing the  Register, to lay a solid foundation for the Register in line with Nigeria’s commitment to developing such a Register when it joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2016

This was contained in the communiqué issued at the end of a one-day Public Consultation/Sensitization on the Establishment of the Beneficial Ownership Register by the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 organised by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Nigeria Secretariat in partnership with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The consultation was attended by representatives of various stakeholder groups including government, Civil Society and the Media. It was held in Lagos on August 27, 2020 and was supported by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Oxfam in Nigeria.

The participants, who commended the Registrar-General of the CAC, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, for his detailed briefing during the consultation, urged the CAC to ensure that any unique identifiers system installed for the Register is interoperable with those of other agencies with similar online platforms.

They also stressed the need for regular public consultations to solicit and receive comments, inputs and feedback from the wider public as well as to rigorously implement the relevant provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 relating to the establishment of the Beneficial Ownership Register, including adopting appropriate regulations which elaborate the initiative and give full effect to all aspects of it.

The participants also recommended that the CAC and other relevant authorities should ensure that the openness, as well as public availability and accessibility of the Register, was given appropriate legal backing through the adoption of an appropriate legal instrument, which should at a minimum be in the form of Regulations.

It was the view of the participants 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, in their view, should be developed through a consultative and participatory process involving key stakeholder groups like the private sector, the media, and civil society.

In a communiqué released after the consultation programme, the participants advised 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.

Participants also advised the OGP Secretariat and other relevant authorities to 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.

Those in attendance expressed appreciation for the assurances by the Registrar-General of the CAC that the Beneficial Ownership Register will be publicly available in Open Data format consistent with Nigeria’s OGP commitment and previous statements by President MuhammaduBuhari that the Register will be open.

Those in attendance include the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani); 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, who chaired the occasion.