Corporate Affairs Commission And Its Service Delivery Portals

By Shidoo Yawe

Management of the Corporate Affairs Corporation, (CAC) led by the Registrar-General/CEO, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, have continued to demonstrate commitment to ensuring speedy service delivery to clients.

The Registrar General, Garba Abubakar recently said that through its unique portal, the CAC was ensuring the speedy service delivery digitally.

Only recently, while speaking with newsmen, Abubakar said that there was no government agency with a truly self-serving portal as the CAC who’s services are rendered 24/7.

The Registrar General said that at CAC, it is all work even on weekends; they don’t observe public holidays such as Christmas and Sallah in order to continually render services to Nigerians.

He also said that the Corporate Affairs Commission has a deliberate policy for clients to access basic information about all the entities registered to Nigerians, all for free and at no cost.

It then becomes easy for the public to know whether a company is registered by having information about the name, the address in the document, the date of registration, and the registration number.

The CAC recently added the Beneficial Ownership Information, (BOI) as a deliberate policy consistent with its regulations.

The BOI is especially aimed to help and support Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign and initiative.

For Corruption, it is generally said that prevention is the most effective tool for fighting the menace.

CAC’s Registrar-General, Garba Abubakar

With the BOI also, when members of the public and the civil society and investigation agencies have access to this information, it gives them the opportunity and the latitude to do their work more efficiently.

The challenge of having to necessarily call the CAC, or send a letter or waste manhour on physical visits is now settled as anyone can access this information on their own and use the information in the course of their investigation.

On Thursday, May 25, 2023, in furtherance to this bold move, the CAC blazed the trail by launching the Beneficiary Ownership Register, (BOR) also called the Beneficial Ownership Information, which is a key initiative of the government.

Abubakar explained that the stand-alone register would allow people to query the database either by the name of the individual or by his address or the name of the company and also provide all the needed information required on the entity.

The CAC under the management of Garba Abubakar has been performing its mandate assiduously.

Also, as part of functions of the Commission as set out in section 7 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, the CAC has the duty to arrange and conduct an investigation into the affairs of any company where the interests of the shareholders and the public so demand.

Nigeria is signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption which is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument globally.

Nigeria’s BOR is undoubtedly the very first on the African continent. This is evident as confessed by representatives of many African countries during the two-day groundbreaking launch of the BOR in Abuja on Thursday, May 25, 2023.

Since the historical launch, many African countries have taken a leaf from Nigeria to establish the BOR in their home States.

At the launch of Nigeria’s Open Governance Register, as the BOR is also called, countries such as the United Kingdom, Zambia, Rwanda and Ghana congratulated Nigeria for taking the lead in the BOR implemention.

Mr. Tom Townsend, Executive Director, Open Ownership from the United Kingdom said that Nigeria had implemented it’s BOR ahead of Britain who’s implemention was still at the teething stage.

Through the Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigeria launched its Open Central Register of Beneficial Ownership (known as the Persons with Significant Control (PSC) Register) in line with its commitment at the Anti-Corruption Summit held in London on May 12, 2016.

For ease of clarity, a PSC is the ultimate individual who exercises significant influence or control over a Company or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), whether directly or indirectly.

Section 14 of the PSC Regulations 2022 provides that Person with Significant Control shall have the same meaning as a beneficial owner, which is the natural person who ultimately owns or controls a Company or LLP or the natural person on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted and includes those natural persons who exercise ultimate effective control over a legal person or arrangement.

Nigeria’s Open Register of Beneficial Owners is expected to improve transparency in open contracting and curtail Illicit-financial flow into the country.

On the penalty, the CAC Registrar-General urged Nigerians to report whatever they perceived as a misstatement or false declaration.

He said: “The law is clear, anybody that makes any false declaration is liable for conviction to two years imprisonment.

“So once we discover that, we will report to the relevant law enforcement and they will take it up from there. After prosecution the person that made the false declaration will be liable to two years jail term”.

Significantly, the BOR implemention will aid in curbing terrorism and insecurity as individuals or groups can no longer hide behind Companies to launder money and do illegality as the veil of incorporation has been automatically lifted.

It will also help in strengthening the capacity of the media to perform their traditional roles as watchdogs of the society.

It will help in facilitating investigations by law enforcement and regulatory agencies into the true ownership and control of Companies and Limited Liability Partnerships and support Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in promoting citizens’ participation in public accountability and governance, among others.

On further engagements, the Registrar-General/CEO of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Alhaji Garba Abubakar recently took Nigeria’s BOR message to the Anti-Corruption for Development Summit in Washington DC.

Abubakar held his audience spell bound when he spoke on the implementation of Beneficial Ownership Transparency Principles in Nigeria alongside counterparts from North Macedonia during a panel session.

Back home, at the end of a 3-day Multilateral Peer Exchange Event on Practical Aspects of Implementing Beneficial Ownership Reforms, in Abuja, the Corporate Affairs Commission received a hearty applause for implanting far-reaching reforms to improve its operations.

Evidently, as explained by the Registrar General, the CAC has had a chequered transition journey from manual to automated registry, striving to operate in line with global best practises.

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