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Improving Regulatory Compliance In Anambra NGOs

Upon request by the Anambra State Civil Society Network (ACSONET), Spaces for Change | S4C convened a dedicated session of the NGO Regulatory Compliance Clinic for non-profit organizations operating in Anambra State. The Clinic was delivered under the auspices of the Civic Space Resource Hub (CSR-Hub) for West Africa project supported by Ford Foundation. The clinic, attended by 20 organizations, took place in Awka, Anambra State, on October 12, 2022, in response to ACSONET’s capacity-building request to help their members improve their regulatory compliance culture.

A quick survey at the start of the clinic showed that the majority of organizations present were unaware of the statutes they need to comply with, especially the provisions of anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) legal regimes and the recent regulatory revisions for non-profits espoused in the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act (MLPA) 2022 and the Terrorism (Prevention) Act (TPA) 2022. Many non-profits in Nigeria are struggling to keep up with their regulatory complaince obligations, particularly following the recent changes in the Nigerian legal environment. The recent delisting of Nigerian non-profit organizations (NPOs) as obliged reporting entities, the repeal of national money laundering and terrorism legislations, and specific provisions in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, which mandate the registration of Host Community Development Trusts as Incorporated Trustees – are some of the current policy and regulatory shifts affecting NPOs.

Resource persons from S4C and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) walked participants through the numerous registration, filing and reporting obligations to the CAC, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), and the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML). Legal statutes underpinning these obligations – such as CAMA 2020, MLPA 2022, and TPA 2022 – were explained in layman’s terms. Because of the presence of oil and gas host communities in the state, the Clinic covered the parts of the PIA 2021 that provide for the registration of Host Community Development Trusts as Incorporated Trustees, subjecting them to the exact regulatory requirements as NPOs. The resource persons responded to several questions fielded by participants regarding the institutional challenges they face, including their vulnerabilities to money laundering and terrorism financing.

The post-clinic evaluations revealed that many participants found the Clinic extraordinarily relevant and helpful in navigating their compliance deficits. With the new knowledge, they are better equipped to improve their corporate compliance culture. Feedback from participants includes:

  1. It gave me practical knowledge of regulatory and statutory compliance requirements for the NPO sector
  2. It helped me, especially in the area of proper documentation.
  3. It was well-explained and detailed.
  4. I learnt the importance of and how to file annual returns.
  5. The clinic was an eye-opener for me, especially in understanding AML/CFT in the NPO sector.

Over the last few years, Spaces for Change (S4C) has helped NPOs across Nigeria to understand the regulatory requirements applicable to non-profits outlined under various national statutes. After hosting five editions of the NGO Regulatory Compliance Clinic in four regions of the country, S4C continues to receive capacity-building requests from diverse groups determined to stay current on new regulations and also address their internal governance needs, in line with the CSR-Hub’s overall objective of building the institutional resilience of civil society organizations (CSOs).