There were discordant tunes at a public hearing on a Bill to amend the Company and Allied Matters Act 2020, proposed by the Senate monday as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and various non-governmental organisations on, disagreed with certain provisions in the act.

They spoke at the public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment; Diaspora and the NGOs.

The Sponsor of the bill, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said the proposed amendments were meant to strengthen the operations of the NGOs in Nigeria.

However in their presentations at the event, stakeholders including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) insisted that the amendments being sought for CAMA was repressive and would infringe on the fundamental human rights of the groups’ promoters.

The stakeholders said it was wrong to mandate the NGOs to submit their audit reports twice in a year.

They also rejected the appointment of interim managers to take over the duties of their board of trustees whenever there was crisis.

They insisted that the organisations did not need third parties to solve their issues without the intervention of a third party.

Apart from this, they claimed that the provisions for merger among smaller NGOs would end up in crisis.

The memo submitted to the Senate joint panel by CAN was signed by its President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle; General Secretary, Joseph Daramola and Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Comfort Chigbue.

CAN kicked against Section 839 of the bill and declared that it negates the principles of freedom and association, religion, freedom to own a property and freedom of expression as provided for in Sections 38, 39, 40, 43, and 44 of tur 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

Part of the memo reads, “CAN is also calling for amendments of sections 842 of the CAMA 2020 which gives power to direct transfer of credit in dormant account to the Corporation Affairs Commission.

“This undermine the provisions of Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)  which guarantees the rights to privacy.”

The Amnesty International opposed some provisions in Part F of the CAMA 2020, claiming that some of the measures contained were ill- conceived, disproportionate, unnecessary, and discriminatory.

Therefore, Amnesty International however, said it welcomed the proposed deletion of sections 831, 842, 843 and 844 from the CAMA 2020. 

Part of its memo presented by Osai Ojigho read, “Notwithstanding these proposed amendments, Part F of CAMA 2020 still contains overly broad powers and vague provisions and provides for an excessive degree of state control and interference in the activities of any association.

“Some of these provisions have not been remedied by the proposed CAMA Bill, 2022, and they still impose impermissible restrictions on human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

“Amnesty International hereby urges the National Assembly to immediately remove the offending provisions highlighted in this memorandum from the legislation in its proposed amendment.”

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