• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Use of beneficial ownership register will reduce corruption – Abubakar

Use of beneficial ownership register will reduce corruption – Abubakar

As the rate of corruption continues to increase in the award of contracts across the country, where companies deliberately refused to execute contract accordingly, Garba Abubakar, registrar-general, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), said the Commission is moving to improve transparency and accountability as well as reducing corruption in the award of contracts. Abubakar made the revelation at a one-day training workshop on the use of beneficial ownership register in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

In his opening remarks at the event, the register–general, represented by Justin Nidia Biraol, director, Compliance, maintained that the use of beneficial ownership register will fight corruption and anti- terrorism, noting that action is provided by Company and Allied Matter CAMA, especially Section 119. He stated that the Corporate Affairs Commission is empowered by CAMA section 868 to define who is a rightful owner of a company.

Read also: Michael Imoudu Institute begins anti-corruption studies

Abubakar further explained that the training workshop is supported by the Word Bank, USAID, CISLAC, Oasis Management Company Ltd and Palladium to make sure that Nigerians are sensitized, especially the South-South and the South-East regions.

The CAC boss expressed concern that if Nigerians and the Civil Society Organizations can use the instrument by checking the owners of companies who are awarded contracts by the government and did not execute such contracts, they can be exposed and known by the general public.

He said there is monetary sanction against any company that refused to disclose the owners of such company within a stipulated time by law, while noting that the law takes cognizance of only those who hold five percent share in the company, saying that this is the best global practice now to check on corrupt individual and companies. “Effective implementation of the beneficial ownership framework is essential for the fight against corruption, money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation funding,” he stated.

Raymond Sylva-Oriji of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, in a lecture, stressed that the process is important in our system to reduce crime and lack of transparency among our contractors. “This is also in the best interest of Nigeria to attract funding externally,” he said.

In an interview shortly after the event, Muna Ugochukwu, senior programme officer of CISLAC, told journalists that the training workshop will monitor companies that invade tax. On lack of compliance by companies he said there are already sanctions waiting for defaulters.

Read also: Sexual corruption in Nigeria’s ivory towers: A festering sore

In his remark, Kelechi Amaechi, chairman, Rivers State Tax Justice Platform, expressed fears that some very powerful Nigerians who own most of these companies may be above the law because they are powerful individuals who are stronger than our institutions.

Recall that other anti-corruption agencies like, EFCC, ICPC, CBN, CAC, NFIU are all parties to monitor the process. Participants also observed that they should include Public Procurement Officer and Code of Conduct if Nigeria wants to sanitize the system.