CISLAC Begins Engagement To Curb $18Bn Nigeria’s



Yemisi Izuora

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has deepened its stakeholder engagement strategy aimed at entrenching transparency in Nigeria’s extractive industry.

The ongoing engagement also seeks at plugging fraudulent conveyor channels through which the country loses over $18 billion annually as a result of Illicit Financial Flows (IFF).

The organisation said the loss was largely due to tax evasion, caused by grand corruption, organised crime and other licit and illicit practices.

Speaking at the opening of a two day workshop organised by the Accountability in Extractive Sector, cluster with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Lagos, the Executive Director and CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa stated that although Nigeria might be an extreme case, the menace was replicated throughout Africa.

According to him, recognition of the need to expand the frontiers of Nigerias collective struggle for transparency and accountability has necessitated the workshop.

He stated that whhile legitimate corporate businesses have an integral role in national development, the involvement of Politically Exposed Persons who conceal corruptly acquired wealth through the complex networks of companies deliberately created to hide their identities has further increased the risks they pose to non-fortified economies.

Musa pointed out that without transparent ownership of Nigerian and international companies operating within the Nigerian jurisdiction, we will not be able to stop the bleeding from illicit financial outflows, which costs us around 18 billion US dollars, annually.

“Being the backbone of our economy, the extractives industry must be run transparently and accountably. Nigeria proved its desire to implement beneficial ownership transparency (BOT) commitments when it participated in the beneficial ownership pilot in 2015, signed up to the Open Government Partnership initiative in 2016 and complied with the principles and requirement of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to establish a beneficial ownership (BO) register by 1st January 2020. NEITI published Africa’s first beneficial ownership register, and the first globally to focus on the lucrative oil, gas and mining sectors in December 2019. The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), on its part, made more far-reaching contributions to the process through the enactment of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) which gave legal backing and made provisions for a larger register for all corporate entities in the country. Further to this, the CAC, towards advancing legal and technical requirements to achieve BOT reforms in Nigeria, established a public Persons with Significant Control Register and is now collecting beneficial ownership data in line with Open Ownership’s data standard, making Nigeria the first country in Africa to do so.

The expectation is that the Register would greatly enhance the fight against corruption and criminality by facilitating investigations by law enforcement agencies into the true ownership and control of companies and limited liability partnerships; supporting civil society organisations in promoting citizens’ participation in public accountability and governance, as well as strengthening the capacity of the media to perform their traditional roles as watchdogs of the society”, he said.

Speaking further he said the course of these achievements, civil society partners sustained interventions to galvanize support from government and non-state champions for the advancement and realization of this commitment towards a more transparent and accountable extractive sector governance regime.

“We must however not rest on our oars as the register is not an end in itself but a means to an end. While it remains a significant effort in the fulfillment of the commitments to strengthen anti-corruption reforms and corporate accountability, it is only as important as its utilization in detecting, preventing, reporting and sanctioning corruption in the sector.

It is towards the above end that we have convened this workshop in recognition of the crucial role of the media as the fourth pillar of democracy and the need for building local stakeholders’ capacity on the importance of quality and timely beneficial ownership data, and to share skills, tools and methodologies to analyse and use the data”, he said.

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