By Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt
Over 85 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Wednesday held a crucial meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and called on the National Assembly to urgently review the amended Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.
The CSOs, which met under the auspices of Action Group on Free Civic Space (AGFCP) insisted that their review of the amended law revealed sections with negative implications and grave consequences if such areas were allowed to operate without review.
They contended that the amended Act was designed to stifle civil space and stop the operations of vocal associations to give the government excessive powers to operate without the watchdog roles of the non-governmental organisations.
The Executive Director, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene, said sections 838, 839, 842 of CAMA 2020 contradicted the constitutionally protected freedoms particularly the freedom of association.
Dumnamene insisted that the new provisions in the Act were punitive as they conferred excessive powers on the government to overly interfere with the activities of the non-profit organisation.
He said: “CAMA 2020 establishes a new form of eminent domain. The recently-added provisions appear to be fixated on enlarging governmental powers to suspend and remove the trustees of an association’s property and bank credit.
“The Corporate Affairs Commission’s (CAC) powers to unilaterally disrupt and displace the expressed intentions and aspirations of the members relegated the constitution or memorandum of an association, rendering it purgatory.
“The new functions of the CAC duplicate the roles of existing regulatory agencies charged with uncovering and punishing financial crimes such as the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML) and the Economic Financial Commission (EFCC)”.
Dumnamene said complying with the new rule would be onerous, time-consuming and possibly ineffective.
He added: “The Action Group on Free Civic Space lauds the efforts of the Commission to introduce legal reforms aimed at easing the processes for running the affairs of corporate bodies, and tackling corporate governance challenges internally and externally.
“However the duplicity of roles and overlapping regulatory powers hampers the development of democratic processes by encouraging the waste of scarce public funds, weakening existing institutions and creating excessively complicated administrative procedures for law enforcement.”