Reconciling NGO Regulatory Commission Bill with existing law

PUNCH published an article titled, “Reconciling NGO Regulatory Commission Bill with existing law.” The article reads in part as follows;

“The legislature has the exclusive power to make laws for the good and benefit of Nigeria and her citizens. However, one would hope that in exercising this power they would use the resources available to them (their legislative aides and the Law Reform Commission) to consider existing laws that cover the subject matter of the bills that they propose to enact into law.

The problem in Nigeria is not the absence of laws but the enforcement of laws. How is creating new laws the solution to inability to enforce the existing laws? Non-governmental organisations are already subject to the law. The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) a very bulky piece of legislation addresses many of the concerns that have apparently prompted this Bill. The objective of the Bill is to set up a regulatory commission for the supervision, coordination and monitoring of non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, etc.

Under CAMA, there are two ways that a not-for-profit organisation can be registered: as Incorporated Trustees, or as a Company Limited by Guarantee.

Section 590(1) of CAMA provides that, “Where one or more trustees are appointed by any community of persons bound together by custom, religion, kinship or nationality or by anybody or association of persons established for any religious, educational, literary, scientific, social, development, cultural, sporting or charitable purpose, he or they may, if so authorised by the community, body or association (in this Act referred to as “the association”) apply to the Commission in the manner hereafter provided for registration under this Act as a corporate body.”

The application procedure requires the submission of the aims and objects of the association which must be for the advancement of any religious, educational, literary, scientific, social, development, cultural, sporting or charitable purpose, and must be lawful. The application package must contain the Constitution of the association, which must state the procedure for disbursement of the funds of the association, the keeping of accounts and the auditing of such accounts, where subscriptions and other contributions are to be collected.

Before the association is registered, upon complete submission of the required registration documents, the application is then publicised in two daily newspapers circulating in the area where the corporation is to be situated and one of those papers must be a national newspaper. If any objections are received, the Corporate Affairs Commission takes that into consideration before registering the association.”

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