CHRICED condemns obnoxious provisions in the just amended Company and Allied Matters Act, 2020 saying it is a sinister conspiracy to silence citizens demands for good governance in the country.
This was contained in a press statement signed by Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, Executive Director, CHRICED and issued to Stallion Times.
According to the statement, the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) has analyzed the provisions of the amended Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, which was assented by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 7, 2020.
Going by the intrusive, repressive and obnoxious provisions concerning incorporated trustees as contained in the Act, it is apparent that the government has turned its lawmaking function into a sinister conspiracy against citizens. We make no mistake about the fact that the target of the draconian sections of the law are the critical voices and organizations amplifying citizens demands for transparency, accountability and good governance.
The statement condemns and rejects the suffocating provisions in the CAMA Act, which were basically rehashed from the discredited (Non-Governmental Organization) NGO Regulation Bill that was overwhelmingly rejected by Nigerians last year.
“It is those same despicable provisions that the government has surreptitiously smuggled into the CAMA Act. The subversion of the lawmaking function of the State, and the use of a rigged legislative process to foist oppressive and unworkable laws on citizens are tell-tale signs of a government that has lost the confidence and legitimacy of the people. The opaque, nocturnal and non-inclusive manner in which the amendments in the CAMA were affected, without recourse to exhaustive consultations, through public hearing and robust debates involving citizens, robs those horrible provisions of their legitimacy”, the statement added.
Example of such obnoxious provisions as contained in the statement includes but not limited to registered associations power grab by the government, as seen in Section 839 of the law.
“With this particular section, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is empowered to suspend the trustees of an association and appoint an interim manager”.
Section 842(2) gives the CAC the powers to dissolve associations “for unsatisfactory response to CAC request for evidence of activities over dormant accounts.”
This again, gives the CAC draconian powers to shut down associations, without recourse to the courts. It also means that the CAC without recourse to the judicial process, can wake up one day, and use the ground of “unsatisfactory response” to dissolve an association of citizens.
The bottom line is that even if such an association is eventually proved innocent the damage to its brand, reputation and operations is already done.
It further stated that, it is an irony that a government which has not been able to summon the political will to dissolve national challenges such as chronic insecurity, employment, lack of quality health services, dilapidated national infrastructure and extreme poverty, is so eager to dissolve associations formed by citizens.
Unfortunately, some NGOs, that should know that the new CAMA Act has toxic provisions that are targeted at attempt to clamp down on the people, have been the ones applauding and giving dubious thanks to the government. For CHRICED, such a position by some NGOs is akin to thanking someone for giving you poisoned food.
It is therefore our considered position that the lack of transparency, consultation, and inclusive debate on the provisions affecting registered associations, amounts to a coup against the constitutionally guaranteed right of citizens to associate freely.
No legislation passed through the back door can usurp the rights of citizens as conferred by the Constitution.
The statement concluded with Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests”.