Osinbajo to Church leaders: Concerns about CAMA can be resolved through legislative amendment

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Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo has said the controversies hovering around the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) can be resolved through amendments by the National Assembly.

Osinbajo said this during a special conversation at the ongoing Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) annual general conference held virtually, his publicist, Laolu Akande, said in a statement on Thursday.

The CAMA law, touted as a landmark of business legislation of decades, was signed into law by the president in August — an amendment from its 2004 version.

The law introduces new provisions that promote ease of doing business and reduces regulatory hurdles while also stipulating certain accountability measures by empowering the corporate affairs commission (CAC).

However, its opponents, which include rights groups, charity organisations and the Christian association, CAN, said the regulatory power given to the CAC could will their autonomy to the government.

But Osinbajo said any provision in the law that the groups take exception to can be amended through a written proposal to the National Assembly as “that is the process which is entirely opened and ought to be pursued.

“We are in a democracy and there is a process by which things can be done and that process is the one where you bring forward amendments to the National Assembly and they will do whatever is considered useful in the circumstance,” Mr Osinbajo said in the statement released by his office.

“It is a massive legislation that covers a wide range of issues on companies – general meetings, appointment of directors etc. Now, there is a small portion of it called the Incorporated Trustees Section, that small section of it is the section that regulates charities.

“Churches, mosques and church organizations are regarded as charities. It is the Incorporated Trustees Section of the Companies and Allied Matters Act that has become controversial. And because churches are charities, the provisions in the incorporated trustees section obviously affect the churches.”

The vice-president further said that the concerns raised by the opponents of the law is more of fear of abuse of the law than avoiding accountability.

“As a general position, I do not think it will be right to say that pastors don’t want to be accountable. I believe that several Christian organizations and pastors are willing to be accountable,” he noted.

“The problems that they may have is ensuring that processes are not abused in such a way as to compromise the entire organization. And I think that if all that is required is some process of accountability, I think it will be easier for organizations to accept that.”

“The concern of the churches is that it could lead to a situation where practically anybody could be appointed as a trustee to oversee the church and a church or a mosque is a spiritual organization and if you do not share the same faith with the church or mosque, you may be the wrong person and if a wrong is appointed, you may create more trouble for the organization,” the vice-president added.




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