The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), has developed Beneficial Ownership register for all corporate entities in Nigeria which enables individuals access and view the beneficial owners of companies in the country at no cost.
The CAC Registrar-General, Alhaji Garba Abubakar said the development is in line with the commitment made by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 that Nigeria will implement publicly available register for beneficiaries.
Alhaji Abubakar who spoke to the press at the ‘Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on Nigeria’s Beneficial Ownership Register’, which held in Stratton Hotel, Abuja, on Wednesday, 27th July, 2022, said CAC is the agency responsible for implementing that directive, and has already brought it to fruition.
According to him, this development has shown that the government of Nigeria is committed to the fight against corruption, open government, transparency, and ensuring that we operate in line with best standards as attainable in any government in the world. He however pointed out some of the challenges of the development.
In his words; “System keeps evolving and even the global standards keep changing as there’s no perfect system anywhere., What is important is to recognize the dynamics and continue to improve.
“The areas of concern has to do with verification of information, we have issues where some filings may not be a true reflection of the individual, to address this, we have integrated our system with Nationality Identity Management Commission’s data, with the full support of the NIMC Agency. As such, any Nigeria or foreigner resident in Nigeria that wants to incorporate any company, we have to validate this information from the NIMC database before the registration is approved. This will help to ensure the integrity of the system to help sanitize the database”.
He also disclosed that in order to register a company with CAC, the individual must have National Identification Number (NIN), to enable the Commission ensure that the individual is recognizable and traceable. “All practice where people clone their means of Identification and submit to us is gone” He affirmed.
Outlining specific action points that may be useful to keep in mind in the implementation process of the beneficial ownership register, the CEO, Open Government Partnership, Sanjay Pradhan, suggested that the register be user friendly, and that the quality and reliability of data is up to date.
He said: “Ensure the register is user friendly, ensure the quality and reliability of data is up to date, organize training and outreach, steadily engage with the private sector, link open contract with beneficial ownership register and ensure they are sanctions.
On his part, the COO, Nigeria Economic Summit Group NESG, Dr. Tayo Aduloju said that most illicit financial flow reports points to individuals, or companies around the world where public funds have been syphoned to, as in most cases, the person stated as the director of an organisation is not usually the final beneficiary of that company.
Aduloju who maintained that open Beneficiaries sits on the side of how proceeds of businesses are accounted, said the Open Beneficiary Register looks forward to creating transparency beyond the director of an organization to who really benefits from the proceeds of the dividends.
In his words, “We hope this system will create robust transparency of how companies are owned and where their proceeds go, to track treasury looting, systemic corruption, contract fraud, among other fraudulent activities.
“This is the type of reform that once it works, it improves the system’s transparency. We encourage citizens to actively test the system so as to give feedback as to weather it’s working or not, in order to strengthen authentication, validation and credibility thereby making Nigeria become a better place where Criminals can’t hide.”