The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has issued a 14 days ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari demanding that he rescinds his assent to the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (CAMA 2020).
The group in a letter dated 22nd August 2020 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare also asked Buhari to return CAMA, particularly sections 839, 842, 843, 844 and 850 contained in Part F of the Act, and any other similar provisions, to the National Assembly for amendment.
SERAP said it has instructed its Legal Counsel, Mr Femi Falana, SAN to take all appropriate legal actions against the president if he fails to repeal act within the stipulated period.
It also asked the President to instruct the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, not to implement or enforce the CAMA 2020 until the legislation is repealed by the National Assembly and made consistent with the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations.
The letter read in part: “With these provisions, the government now has overly broad and discretionary powers to arbitrarily withdraw, cancel or revoke the certificate of any association, suspend and remove trustees, take control of finances of any association, and to merge two associations without their consent and approval of their members.”
SERAP alleged that; “Rather than taking concrete measures to improve the legal environment and civic space that would ensure respect for human rights and media freedom, your government has consistently pursued initiatives to restrict the enjoyment of citizens’ human rights. These rights are protected from impairment by government action.”
“These restrictions, coupled with repressive broadcasting codes and Nigerian security agencies’ relentless crackdown on peaceful protesters and civil society, demonstrate the government’s intention to suppress and take over independent associations.” It added
“Constitutional guarantees of freedom of association would be very limited if they are not accompanied by a guarantee of being able to share one’s beliefs of ideas in community with others, particularly through associations of individuals having the same beliefs, ideas or interests.
“Similarly, freedom of association creates a forum for citizens in which they may freely seek, without any unlawful interference by the state, to move public opinion and achieve their goals. That “forum” cannot exist if the government is at liberty to treat one association as forming part of another or coercing one association to merge with another association.”
“By seeking to suspend and remove trustees, and appoint interim managers for associations, government seems to want to place itself in a position to politicise the mandates of such association, and to undermine the ideas that the right to freedom of association and related rights are supposed to protect in a democratic society.”