The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA 2020) recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari is one that has generated a lot of controversies around it. Religious leaders, business owners, policy analysts and other elites have come out to say something about the act. Of these people, religious leaders seem to be the ones who have vehemently kicked against the law because of a clause they claim will meddle in the affairs of religious organizations.
Business owners have however praised the president for this act they call it a remedy to the problem they face in the country with the clauses contained in it. For religious organizations and other NGOs, they are against the clause in the act that empowers the Corporate Affairs Commission to take over any organization it considers there’s laundering or mismanagement of funds.
Presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, Bishop David Oyedepo made this statement regarding the act, “In the document, they said the registrar-general can remove the trustees without recourse to the court. Don’t try it. This must be from somebody who woke up from the wrong side of the bed after dreaming. The person must have drafted that aspect in the bill as their custom is.
“I am 51 years old in this thing (Christianity), don’t try it. I have been with Jesus for some time and I am sent as a prophet to nations. That a minister can remove the trustees and close the accounts of the church is.
“You don’t know the strength of any man until you molest his wife. The cheapest way for a leader to lose respect is to insult the wife of his worker. He will tell you to take your job and insult you thoroughly.
“Please know that the church is the bride of Christ. We are returning home someday for the big marriage supper of the lamb. It is wisdom to quickly expunge that part that affects the religious body from that document. It is only safe to do that.
Meanwhile, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has described the law as badly drafted, he said “I have read the law. It was badly drafted. A government that set out to facilitate the ease of doing business could not have come up with a 604-page business law (CAMA 2020).”But it is not a completely new law. Registered NGOs were regulated in the past in line with the practice in all democratic societies.
“The only addition which is objectionable is the power conferred on the commission to take over and manage NGOs on allegations of misconduct.
“It is illegal because it is a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of association guaranteed by section 40 of the Constitution”
Debo Onifade while speaking at the Liberating Nigeria online show organized by Liberating Nigeria, leading online political forum, described Falana’s stance as consistent with his. He said the law wasn’t new and was surprised at the manner at which there is a lot of outrage about it. He then added that he doesn’t see anything wrong with churches, mosques and other non-governmental organizations being regulated, it has always been done but subtle because the organizations are quite powerful especially the churches.
He said these organizations face and regard regulations in other countries and so shouldn’t be different in Nigeria adding that as long as there are no wrongdoings then they shouldn’t be scared of being regulated. If they do not want to be regulated then they should convert to a profit making private venture and nobody will question about how they make or spend their money.
He added that there has been news of irregularities going on in Non-governmental Organizations and so them being regulated is a good thing, however, he only doesn’t agree with takeover by the corporate affairs commission, he said instead the CAC can take charge of any NGO for some time to enable and teach better management and also ensure that things get back to normal in terms of conflict management, handling of funds, etc.
Still on the show, Onifade spoke about the election of Olumide Akpata as Nigerian Bar Association. Olumide Akpata who has been described as an underdog won the election with a landslide against Senior Advocates with whom he contested.
According to Onifade, this is not the first time a non-SAN will emerge president of the NBA, it has happened before in the past like 30 years ago but it still doesn’t stop the fact that it is a feat.
He said Olumide did a good job even as an under-dog., though he is an underdog Onifade maintained that he has been a part of different sub groups in the NBA and has practiced law for a while and has been close to some SANs.
He added that even if he got support from younger lawyers to emerge, his being close to SANs made him get support from some seniors quietly. Olumide did a good job campaigning and ran the politics quietly. He never blasted past SANs in his campaign, he was respectful even if he wanted to win unlike young politicians who abuse everybody and end up not getting support but enemies, He will have a good tenure because he didn’t come in as anti SAN, Onifade said.
He continued to say that, even though some lawyers called for the cancellation on grounds that it wasn’t perfect, some seniors have said they are okay with it and the higher authority have said the election should remain.
Onifade went further to praise Olumide’s strategy of running politics and hopes it could be replicated in the Nigerian political scene starting from the local levels and then eventually the national level, he also hoped it can be replicated in other bodies.
On El-rufai’s withdrawal from the Nigerian Bar Association conference, Onifade said he wasn’t surprised it happened and described the governor’s response to issues as unpleasant. He said El-rufai has resorted to threatening people who do not agree with him and he shouldn’t have expected his actions to go well with people.
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By Deborah Yusuf