Nigeria risks suspension from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an organisation which promotes the open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources, over President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in assenting to the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) repeal bill.

The previous national assembly passed the bill but the president is yet to assent to it.

Some civil society organisations in the country appealed to the president to sign the bill, saying Nigeria has one week left and that failure to sign it before the deadline could lead to a possible ban.

The civil society organisations are The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), African Center for Leadership and Strategic Development, Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC), Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), SOTU-Nigeria, National Procurement Watch Platform (NPWP), African Center for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Open Alliance, BudgiT, Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) and Women’s Rights and Protection Alternative (WRAPA).

Addressing a press conference on behalf of the groups, Auwal Rafsanjani, executive director of CISLAC, said Buhari had made commitment to strengthen anti-corruption reforms and joined the open government partnership (OGP) in May 2016 during the anti-corruption summit in London.

He said: “One of the commitments in Nigeria’s country statement issued by President Buhari at the summit was that ‘Nigeria is committed to establishing a public central register of company beneficial ownership information.’ Three years after this bold commitment and two years of implementation of OGP, there is still no beneficial ownership register.

“The ultimate goal is the establishment of comprehensive database of REAL OWNERS behind the management of private companies operating within Nigerian jurisdiction,” he said.

“If CAMA bill is not signed by President Buhari this week, a decade of work will be lost and irreparable diplomatic, economic and reputations damage inflicted on Nigeria.”

Rafsanjani listed the benefits of CAMA when signed into law to include: “Beneficial ownership register will address Nigeria’s obligations towards; Financial Action Task Force (FATF) whose efforts aim at promoting policies and standards that insulate global financial systems from acts of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (Article 24 and 25); Nigeria’s obligation under the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the global Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) implementation of the beneficial ownership standards in extractive sector before the 31st of December, 2019 deadline for Nigeria.Above all, Nigerian will profit as stolen public wealth will be exposed.

“In the absence of CAMA, we risk the suspension from the EITI initiative where Nigeria has always played an important global role and adjudged one of the best EITI countries. Furthermore, Nigeria is already under pressure from the United States, European Union and other important partners for weak compliance with anti-money laundering legislation, anti-terrorism financing and illicit financial flows. Sanctions will follow if rapid improvement is not achieved right now! In addition, President Buhari’s anti-corruption credentials will receive yet another blow if he fails to act on CAMA.

“We have just missed a huge opportunity to leap forward in the fight against Nigeria’s stolen wealth. The failure to enact the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) has inexplicably jeopardized the asset recovery effort, which the Executive champions with great vigour. Many international partners and domestic stakeholders have been horrified to observe the opportunity lost as hundreds of millions of US dollars are awaiting to be returned to Nigeria by the international community. Without POCA, there is no framework to do that in an accountable and transparent way.”

The civil society organisations also advised Buhari not to give corrupt persons opportunity in his cabinet.

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