…Ready To Meet Ohaneze Group In Court Over Withdrawal Of Certificate
By Felix Kassim
The Registrar General (RG) of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Mr Garba Abubakar, has given a blow -by-blow account of the incident that led to the recent arrest of two lawyers within the premises of the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Abubakar, who briefed newsmen on the various measures being put in place to sanitise activities of the agency in Abuja at the weekend, said the two lawyers (name withheld) were part of the bad eggs among CAC customers that specialised in faking signatures in company registration documents on behalf of their clients.
“You will be surprised that a company that has an address in Ikorodu or somewhere in the SouthEast or South West or the far North East, within one hour the same document will be returned to you that it has been signed by the customer.
“So we had information, security information, that this was being done in our vicinity, so we have to organise an operation, a lawyer was apprehended, two lawyers actually were apprehended, one specialises in signing the documents, the second lawyer took the documents to him to sign on behalf of her clients. They have been taken to the Force CID and already we are making arrangements to arraign them in court,” Abubakar said.
On the controversies that trailed the withdrawal of registration certificate issued to Ohaneze Ndigbo General Assembly, the CAC boss said the registration was earlier approved in error.
He said: “Yes, we have withdrawn the certificate of Ohaneze Ndigbo General Assembly because the certificate should not have been issued in the first instance.
“We have an established protocol that all organisations; ethnic, religious or political implication should be referred for security clearance before such organisations are registered. In 2017, a similar organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide applied to be registered and security agencies rejected it.
“It would have been a double standard to allow another organisation to be registered. Up till now Arewa Consultative Forum is not registered because they were not given security clearance, we have South-South Youth Forum, NorthEast Youth Forum and so many organisations that have not been allowed to register.
“What we have done after withdrawing the certificate, we now referred the application for security clearance, if at the end of the day we are advised that this object is consistent with what the law says, and the trustees are fit and proper, then we will go ahead, but till then, we have withdrawn the certificate. And they have threatened to go to court, we are lawyers, we will meet them in court.”
Speaking on the introduction of a mailing system that ensures pre-incorporation certificates are delivered to customers through designated courier companies, Abubakar said the policy has put an end to the situation where customers visit its Lagos and Abuja offices for collection of certificates.
He, however, expressed surprise over the level of protest that has trailed the mailing system, which he described as more cost-friendly to customers and also enhances the Commission’s operations as COVID-19 guideline stipulates that only level 14 officers and above should resume for work.
“We have a total workforce of 1,310 staff, only 221 of such staff fall into the category of officers from level 14 and above. Every Monday to Friday we attend to nothing less than 500 customers.
“But if you are dealing with mailing company, every certificates we can produce by 2:00pm, we hand it over to the courier company the same day and the customer can pick it, this system was introduced on Friday and I can assure you between the time it was introduced till now over 400 certificates have been dispatched by the courier companies.
“In the past some customers would wait for one month without getting the certificate, to the extent some were even accusing our staff of corruption, that our staff were collecting money. The mailing system won’t stop at certificate dispatch, it will extend to all other processes,” the RG said.
Abubakar said those protesting against the mailing system are mainly customers (lawyers) who have turned the CAC premises to their office on the guise of sourcing certificates for their clients.
“The people begin the day with CAC and end the day with CAC. Lawyers supposed to have self-esteem and operate with decorum, if you see what is happening at the car park (certificate collection point) on a daily basis, you will wonder if you are dealing with Almajiris, we have to sanitise the system,” Abubakar said.
The CAC boss also assured that the operations of the Commission will also receive a boost as he has secured approval to purchase laptops for staff under grade level 14 to work from home as a result of the COVID-pandemic.