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CAMA 2020 provisions violates human rights – Falana, Odinkalu

A rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) and a former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, have spoken against the implementation of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, saying that many of its provisions constitutes infringement on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians. Falana and Odinkalu said the new legislation gave too much power to the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, which can easily be used to arbitrarily clamp down on civil society organisations.

They both bared their minds at a virtual townhall meeting, with the theme; “CAMA 2020: Regulation or Repression?” co-organised by European Union-ACT; Open Society Initiative for West Africa; Working Group on Civil Society Regulatory Environment; Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). In his remarks, Falana faulted Section 389 of the legislation, which empowered the CAC to suspend the Board of Trustees of an organisation in crisis and appoint an interim committee to manage its affairs. He said the section constitutes a violation of citizens’ rights to freedom of association.

The silk also faulted Section 842, which empowered the CAC to take over the funds in the bank accounts of an organisation in crisis as well as Section 851, which empowered the CAC to set up an Administrative Proceedings Committee, headed by its Registrar-General, to resolve internal disputes in an organisation. He said the provisions of Section 842 were tantamount to “obtaining money by false pretence.” He said: “The organisation has been registered with its constitution; the Registrar-General of the CAC has no power to throw away the constitution incorporated with the organisation.

“Once you have registered the constitution of an organisation and it has provided for a Board of Trustees, it has provided for accountability mechanisms, you must respect such provisions of the organisation’s constitution that has been registered. The point being made that we should allow this law to work before we point out these very dangerous provisions will not be the best approach. “The Administrative Proceedings Committee will be headed by the Registrar-General of the CAC; so, he is going to be the accuser, the prosecutor and also the judge to decide who is wrong or right.

He is also going to be empowered to impose penalties on any organisation who fails to file returns. These powers are draconian”. Speaking in the same vein, Prof. Odinkalu described Part F of CAMA 2020 as a “mish-mash” of borrowed laws from the United Kingdom, hastily copied without the safeguards in the English law.

 

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