COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF ONE DAY CSOS WORKSHOP ON SUPPORTING BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP TRANSPARENCY CHAMPIONS IN NIGERIA ORGANIZED BY CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE (CISLAC) WITH SUPPORT FROM TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL (TI) AND FUNDS FROM DFID, HELD AT BOLTON WHITE HOTEL, ABUJA ON THURSDAY 27TH APRIL, 2017.
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) organized a one-day Civil Society Organizations’ (CSOs) workshop on Supporting Beneficial Ownership Transparency Champions in Abuja. The workshop was aimed at educating and creating awareness among CSOs on the concept of beneficial ownership, its challenges in Nigeria, how CSOs fit in its narrative, and advance ways that beneficial ownership can be holistically implemented in Nigeria to positively affect the economy, help fight corruption and impact the lives of Nigerians. The workshop drew over 30 participants from across CSOs in Abuja. It featured Mr Dauda Garuba as the lead presenter and other discussants. After exhaustive deliberations, the following observations and recommendations were made.
- Beneficial Ownership is not specifically mentioned in any known Nigerian law; however, it can be inferred from a concept defined in the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) as substantial shareholder.
- It is important to demand accountability/ transparency on how business is done in the country, as the impact that disclosure of Beneficial Ownership (BO) has in fighting corruption and opening up processes to ensure that resources impact the lives of the people cannot be overemphasized.
- While the issue of Beneficial Ownership has been in discoursein other parts of the world for many years, it has only gained popularity / momentum in Nigeria and Africa in the last few years.
- Terrorism is a major factor in BO, and the BO discourse can be linked to cases of terrorism in which companies in the west can be used to fuel/sponsor terrorism in the east.
- Nigeria’s definition of Beneficial Ownership is not comprehensive, because Nigeria does not have a BO Policy in her laws.
- The organizations doing business in Nigeria should not only be made to be financially accountable, be environmentally accountable as well.
- Increase awareness creation among CSOs and build their capacity on strategies for engagement
- Instead of taking on a direct/ confrontational approach, CSOs should engage by politely rubbing and massaging the leaders into submission without coming off or giving the impression of fighting the government.
- The ‘substantial Shareholder’ in Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) cannot be applicable to all scenarios, an alternative is to enact a law or replicate laws of other countries.
- CSOs should create win-win scenarios in selling the BO concept by pushing forward companies.
- Incentives in the form of awards for companies doing responsible business in the country can be given to encourage adherence.
- Government should devise censorships that give sanctions on violation of ethics and laid down principles and CSOs can also go further by analyzing and putting forward in engagements motivating factors for the key players. (financial institutions, accountants, lawyers etc)
- There is also need for CSOs’ exchange visits towards developing capacity for engagement.