CAMA asks Nigeria Companies, Individuals to declare Ownership and Structure

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The Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (CAMA 2020) signed into law by the President Muhammadu Buhari, has asked individuals and companies in sections 119-123 to declare their ownership and structure.

Nigeria has set the record of few countries with legal framework for beneficial ownership disclosure not only in its extractive sector, but also for every company, the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has noted.

CAMA 2020 was signed into law by Buhari to replace the 1990 Act. CAMA 2020, the legislation governing firms, affects residents and foreigners doing business. The bill was aimed at supporting the government initiative to improve ease of doing business.

It establishes an efficient means of regulating businesses, minimise the compliance burden of small and medium enterprises, enhance transparency and shareholder engagement and promote a friendly business climate.

The law makes provisions to reflect modern commercial realities and also reduce compliance costs and regulatory hurdles for businesses.

The Assistant Director, Communications and Advocacy at the NEITI, Mrs Obiageli Onuorah, said the CAMA 2020 requires individuals and companies in sections 119-123 to declare their ownership and structure.

In a communique issued at the end of that summit, Mrs Onuorah, mentioned the key role that beneficial ownership (BO) disclosure would play in the fight against corruption and illicit financial flows.

“We will enhance transparency over who, ultimately, owns and controls them, to expose wrongdoing and to disrupt illicit financial flows. As recent events have shown, we need to take firm collective action on increasing beneficial ownership transparency,”

The communique further read out how partnerships between local and international jurisdictions would enhance and facilitate the use of BO to track incidence of corruption among collaborating countries. It specifically said: “We will support developing countries to collect beneficial ownership information and use it in public contracting and other sectors work.” she noted

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Mrs Onuora,recalled how NEITI had called on the government to implement and institutionalise ownership transparency as a “systematic and more sustainable way of fighting corruption owing to the dangers of secrecy in the ownership of extractive sector assets in Nigeria. ”

According to her, by last December, NEITI’s beneficial ownership register was set up, noting that the register is publicly accessible on a portal linked to the NEITI website.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI) is a global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources which seek to address the key governance issues in the extractive sectors.
When implemented by a country, the EITI ensures transparency and accountability about how a country’s natural resources are governed and regulated. This ranges from how the rights are issued, to how the resources are monetised, to how they benefit the citizens and the economy

Mrs Onuorah noted the EITI in its 2019 Standards required implementing countries to “document the government’s policy and multi stakeholder group’s discussion on disclosure of beneficial ownership”. She further stated that the global body had recommended that implementing countries should “maintain a publicly available register of the beneficial owners of the corporate entity (ies) that apply for or hold a participating interest in an exploration or production oil, gas or mining license or contract”.

Mrs Onuorah said with the support of the monitoring and whistle-blowing role of the media, professional bodies and the civil society, beneficial ownership disclosure would deepen and strengthen transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s extractive sector adding that it’s a key mandate of NEIT

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