By Patrick Obia
Civil society organisations (CSOs) in Cross River have kicked against the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 claiming it is against the interest of the people.
This was the position of the CSOs after a roundtable discussion recently in Calabar, the Cross River State capital where the co-convener, Ben Usang said the CAMA 2020 which replaces the CAMA 1990 gave undue power to the government.
“Today’s event basically was a resource presentation to look at key provisions in the Acts. We have started discussion on our platforms, that the Company and Allied Matter Acts which is the enabling Act of corporate Affairs Commission, where number of NGOs registered, is the Act that concerns us and an Act that we are key stakeholders and, an Act that should require our response base on the fact that it has been assented to. So we decided that there was need to have a round table as a bide of responding to the Act and basically alongside with the current trend of uproar that the Acts is intended to make government work against public interest especially against the interest of our organization,” Usang said.
He continued: “We spent sometime looking at some issues that directly bother us first and base on that, today we were able to have some representatives of CSOs coming together in the Budget Transparency and Accountability Network Hall under our partnership principles to actually hold the event.”
After deliberations, questions and answers in the session, they resolved that; “We felt that merging of organizations and giving that power to corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to merge Civil Society Organizations if they represent similar interest was not in order; it did not represent the intention of the founders of those organizations to specifically look at certain issues in the Society that we are concern and truly that is how NGOs are formed, specially look at unique aspect of social problems and resolve it.
“We disagree with the penalty for not registering, the provision allow NGOs who do not want to be registered not to be registered but now put a penalty; unfortunately, that penalty though two hundred Naira a day in the period they are not registered, when you cumulatively put that together that will be lot of money; not about being a lot of money we think that would be absolutely wrong that such type of penalty should not be put on us.
“The issue of suspension of trustees because of issues of integrity and accountability not being put in place. First of all, as advocate of good governance many CSOs represent, we totally think that it is in order for us to be accountable, for us to be transparent, for us to manage resources at our disposals equitably. If we are going to demand that from government, which means that the ones that are not doing it should be sanctioned but we think that the problem with the sanction is not even the suspension of the trustees and getting interim manager; an interim manager should not be a process that will be dictated by government, a government committee is put in place and the government committee facilitate putting together of interim manager. That will mean that the interest of floor members as it were will be defeated because any kind of person that doesn’t support the interest of the organization can play up. The interest we are protecting is the interest of the NGOs, itself and how it was founded.
“The issue of CAC being the first point of arbitration when an organization is to be sanctioned: The CAC themselves were supposed to be the investigating organization. They were the registering organization, they became the investigating organization. Now to give it back to them that they are suppose to be ones to become the first point of arbitration would be wrong; it will not be fair, it will not be just. If you look at it, is like more of making the police that arrested somebody to become a court, that is not right and you know very well that in our legal system the first court is very crucial. So CAC being a trial court will be quite unjust, so we think that should be a spunch. Let the trial court move straight to the high court and let the trial process start from there and that will be better.
“Our point is that, we need that Acts, the process of running organization has to be regulated some how but not to be regulated to a point where it is detrimental to the intention. We should not run any Acts that works against any provision; we support provisions that are good.” He ended
President Muhammadu Buhari had on August 7, 2020, assented to the Companies and Allied Maters Act, 2020 which repeals and replaces the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990.
The body added it will come out with a well drafted communique in few days time.
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