No going back on deregistration of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Arewa socio-cultural groups – CAC

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The federal government will not rescind its decision to proscribe Ohaneze Ndigbo and Arewa Consultative Forum, the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Garba Abubakar, has said.

Mr Abubakar said, henceforth, requests for registration by socio-cultural groups and organisations would not be granted by the CAC without a certificate of security screening and clearance of their Board of Trustees members.

The CAC chief disclosed this on Saturday in Abuja while briefing reporters on the activities of the Commission.

He said there are growing concerns in recent times from security agencies over groups that have been granted registration whose Board of Trustees have turned out to be people with questionable characters and backgrounds.

Citing the examples of the Ohaneze Ndigbo General Assembly and Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) which have been proscribed by the federal government, Mr Abubakar said their registrations have since been withdrawn by the CAC.

The Commission, he said, would not process the requests for registration of groups whose activities would constitute a threat to national security.

“There is no going back on the decision to revoke the certificate of registration of the two groups, as they have since transformed from socio-cultural groups to political organisations.

The demand for security clearance of members of the Board of Trustees, he said, was part of the ongoing reforms on the requirement for consent for associations registered under Part C of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), to sanitize the operations of the CAC.

Companies covered under Part C of the CAMA are those set up not with the purpose of sharing its profits to members but registered strictly either as social, cultural, educational, development or other purposes.

Under the CAMA, such organizations are expected to appoint one or more members into their Board of Trustees to act as the legal representatives of the association.

In the past, Mr Abubakar said all sorts of names of such groups and organization were approved by the CAC without realizing the implications till getting to the point of producing the certificates of registration by the Commission.

He said security agencies have in recent times expressed serious concerns about the proliferation of some of the controversial organizations whose activities have constituted a source worry to both the government and Nigerians at large.

Prior to 2003, the Registrar-General said security agencies were responsible for vetting and conducting background checks of members of the Board of trustees of new organizations and recommend to the CAC for registration.

He said this arrangement was later replaced with the requirement for statutory declaration by every member of the Board of trustee to confirm full compliance with the legal requirements of the law on their sanity, good conduct, and criminal conviction within the last five years of their appointment.

Groups transforming
However, Mr Abubakar said what the government has observed in recent times was that some of these organisations have metamorphosed into purely political groups, propagating objectives that are strange to what they were registered for.

“Political groups are not acceptable by CAC for registration. The activities of some of these groups constitute a threat to national security. Henceforth, every application under Part C of CAMA must first be properly scrutinized by the Registrar-General of the CAC,” he said.

Under that arrangement, the CAC boss said, applicants must submit an application for consent by providing the names of their trustees, the objects of the association for scrutiny by the CAC and recommendation made to the Registrar-General for registration.

To check the proliferation of the illegal groups from the level of name search, approval and consent by applicants, he said the name of the groups would only be registered on the approval of the Registrar-General of the CAC after receiving a security clearance report.

“It is only when the name has been cleared by the security agencies that the association will proceed to file the application with the CAC for registration,” he said.

On concerns about cost, he said the motivation for proper screening of the trustees was not money, as the total number of applications under Part C out of CAMA in the country is about 150,000 against over two million companies and businesses that seek registration.

He said the CAC’s intention was not motivated by the need to have additional income but to sanitize the process and ensure only organizations with the right calibre of people and objectives were registered under Part C.

The other option, he said, was to insist that socio-cultural organisations seeking registration must undergo security screening, a process that would take a minimum of one year to complete.

Already, he said the CAC has begun the implementation of the guidelines for the reforms of the registration process approved by the Board of the Commission after receiving inputs from the public, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

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