Group advocates transparency, accountability in corporate governance in Nigeria

  The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has advocated for transparency, accountability in corporate governance in Nigeria.Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC, disclosed this in a media briefing in Lagos on Wednesday.

Rafsanjani said that CISLAC, Transparency International-Nigeria with support from Tax Justice Network – Africa (TJNA) and Open Ownership was piloting a substantive monitoring of the Beneficial Ownership (BO) disclosure commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He said that the monitoring included the 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit and the Open Government Partnership Initiative.

“Transparency of ownership and control of companies, partnerships, trusts and other legal entities that can hold assets and open bank accounts is critical to the ability to determine where illicit funds are moving to and who is moving them.

“While the rapid uptake of BO is significant, the quality, accuracy and utility of the data for its intended purpose of curbing Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) is dependent on the right legislative framework being in place and the data conforming to the beneficial open data standards (BODS).”

He said: “We have identified some of the issues that have the capacity to hamper the effective implementation of this initiative regardless of how good it looks.

“These include the following, the capacity of the tax and customs authorities, policing and prosecution authorities.

“Mandatory clause on beneficial ownership information to be provided when companies are incorporated or trusts registered.

“The presence of a mandate to ensure that information provided by any entity is periodically updated and on a regular basis.

“Enforcement ability to ensure that information is placed on the publicly accessible platform,” he said.

According to Rafsanjani, the interoperability of data between government agencies and linked to a central procurement portal as Beneficial ownership declarations should be required of all parties entering into government contracts.

“Modalities to verify declared information and false declarations should result in robust penalties.

“For the purpose of this exercise, CISLAC wants to pose these questions as a guide for the respective responsible institutions to ponder on.

“This is as we anticipate a credible process of implementing the beneficial ownership disclosure initiative as a measure to ensure accountability in the public fiscal framework in Nigeria in a bid to foster equitable development.

“What is the status and quality of the implementation of BO transparency policies in Nigeria?

“What are the governance issues affecting the implementation of BO transparency policies in Nigeria?

“What are the existing capacity knowledge gaps and what are the existing opportunities for improvement of these capacity gaps?

“How effective is the existing or planned beneficial ownership disclosure regime?

“What are the lessons learnt, the challenges and the successes in the implementation of BO transparency policies in Nigeria?” he said.

Rafsanjani said that these indicators above stated as questions would help to evaluate the existing in-country capacity in respect of two parameters.

Also, Registrar General, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Alhaji Garba Abubakar said that CAC has deployed an electronic register that covers all aspects of registration services.

Abubakar said that all companies that registered from January till date information was available on the CAC website and could be viewed at no cost.

According to him,  every company registered must disclose every beneficial owners.

He said that the whole essence was to entrench transparency to support anti corruption initiative of the company.

Abubakar said that CAC was collaborating with national identity card (NIMC) database to ensure the integrity of all information received.