Beneficial Ownership Register (NG0006)
Action Plan: Nigeria National Action Plan 2017-2019
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)
Support Institution(s): Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ministry of Mines and Steel, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), CBN, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, National Information Technology Development Agency, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation. Public What You Pay (PWYP), African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Digital Forensics, African Network for Economic and Environmental Justice (ANEEJ), PWYP, WANGONeT, CISLAC, Nigeria Security and Exchange Commission, NACCIMA, Connecting Lens Initiative, Society for Forensic Accounting and Fraud Prevention, BudgIT, Public and Private Development Centre, PGL, Professional Women Accountants of Nigeria, Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises Advocacy and Support Initiative, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), SFAFP, PROWAN
Policy AreasBeneficial Ownership, Capacity Building, Fiscal Transparency, Private Sector
Nigeria is committing to establishing a register that will make it possible to identify the natural persons who directly or indirectly own, control or enjoy the benefits of the corporate entity.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
6. To establish a public central register of beneficial owners of companies
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
“Nigeria commits to establish a register that will make it possible to identify the natural persons who directly or indirectly own, control or enjoy the benefits of the corporate entity.”
6.1. CAC to commence consultations, workshops and process of establishment of Register of Beneficial Ownership.
6.2. Capacity building on Beneficial Ownership for public officials, civil society and investigative journalists.
6.3. Establishment of Beneficial Register designed according to open data standards.
6.4. Regular update of the Register using innovative technology.
6.5. Dissemination of Information on Beneficial Ownership.
6.6. Establish clear rules on beneficial ownership, constitute coordinating committee with CAC and NEITI as lead organisations.
Start Date: January 2017 End Date: December 2019
Action plan is available here:
Context and Objectives
This commitment aims to enhance civic participation through access to beneficial ownership information via a register using open data standards.
In Nigeria, a lack of due diligence requirements relating to beneficial ownership has been linked to money laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism and corruption.  According to Kolawole Banwo (CISLAC), people use proxies and fronts to register companies and the legal owners are usually not those who control and benefit from the companies. There is a lot of political interference in economic and commercial decisions, and officials use their position to further enrich themselves through procurement processes or acquisition of assets and properties.  Banwo believes this information should be public, since what ensures transparency is public scrutiny.  Nigeria has an extended history of engagement with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)  and the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA). This engagement has remedied some of the legal and institutional gaps relating to anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism. 
But the law, as set out in the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap 59, 1990 (CAMA), does not provide for the systematic identification of beneficial owners, nor the establishment of a publicly-accessible beneficial ownership register. For example, section 94 of CAMA allows a public company to require a member of that company to disclose the capacity in which he holds company shares and if he holds them otherwise as a beneficial owner. Section 95 addresses the notification of substantial, not beneficial, ownership. These provisions reflect a concern with concentration and control, rather than with transparency and accountability. They have not prevented false fronts in the company register maintained by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)  and allegations of grand corruption continue to surface. For example, in 2015, the media reported that 15 ex-governors who had won Senate seats in the country’s elections had misappropriated and laundered N 172 billion.  In 2016, the Panama Papers revealed that 106 Nigerians and firms owned companies and assets in offshore tax havens. 
In May 2016, President Buhari recognized the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and their efforts to implement beneficial ownership disclosure in the extractive industries (the NEITI published its roadmap in this regard in December 2016, see Commitment 3)  and announced that a disclosure requirement would be extended to other sectors. 
Commitment 6 is relevant to three OGP values (access to information, civic participation and technology and innovation for transparency and accountability). A beneficial ownership register designed according to open data standards, along with the creation of clear rules and dissemination of information on beneficial ownership, should advance access to information and technology and innovation for transparency and accountability. Robust consultations and workshops on establishing the register would promote civic participation.
Overall, the commitment is specific enough to be verifiable, although Milestones 6.1, 6.2, and 6.5 lack important detail. Milestone 6.1 does not expressly state that consultation will occur with civil society, and the “capacity building” envisaged by Milestone 6.2 is vague. Milestone 6.5 does not specify how beneficial ownership information will be disseminated to the public, but this is important given the technical nature of the information. Milestone 6.4 could be more measurable by specifying how regularly the register would be updated.
Civil society stakeholders are of the view that the commitment will have a transformative impact.  Nigeria should achieve beneficial ownership reforms given President Buhari’s political support, alongside the institutional and technical capacity of the CAC, the Bureau of Public Procurement, and the Central Bank of Nigeria.  However, although Milestone 6.6 mentions the need for “clear rules” on beneficial ownership, failure to mention legislative reforms, specifically of the CAMA, lowers the commitment’s potential impact to “moderate.”
This commitment covers a critical policy area for the country. Future commitments in this area could include:
- A specific timeline and strategy for legislative reform; this is instrumental to realize the ambition of this policy area. A clear analysis of gaps in the current legal framework would be helpful to identify the adjustments needed to enable beneficial ownership reforms in Nigeria;
- Consider articulating a strategy for public agency coordination and engagement, particularly relevant agencies like the CAC, BPP, and Central Bank of Nigeria. Their involvement and collaboration are key to deliver implementation in this policy aim; and
- Set concrete targets to update the register and promote the register’s use.
NG0015, 2019, Audits and Controls
Implement Open Contracting and the Open Contracting Data Standard
NG0016, 2019, Beneficial Ownership
Transparent Tax Revenue Reporting
NG0017, 2019, Legislation & Regulation
Open Contracting and Licensing in Extractives
NG0018, 2019, E-Government
Implement EITI Standard
NG0019, 2019, Audits and Controls
Establish Beneficial Ownership Registry
NG0020, 2019, Beneficial Ownership
Strengthen Asset Recovery Legislation
NG0021, 2019, Anti-Corruption Institutions
Implement National Anti-Corruption Strategy
NG0022, 2019, Anti-Corruption Institutions
Improve Compliance with Freedom of Information Act with Focus on Records Management
NG0023, 2019, Capacity Building
Improved Compliance with Mandatory Publication Provisions Requirement (FOIA)
NG0024, 2019, Capacity Building
Implement Permanent Dialogue Mechanism
NG0025, 2019, Gender
Aggregate Citizens' Feedback on Programs
NG0026, 2019, E-Government
Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression
NG0027, 2019, Civic Space
Enhance Participation of the Vulnerable
NG0028, 2019, Capacity Building
Implement New Computer Program in 6 Government Ministries to Improve Service Delivery
NG0029, 2019, Capacity Building
Legal Instrument to Strengthen SERVICOM
NG0030, 2019, Legislation & Regulation
Citizen Participation in Budget Cycle
NG0001, 2017, Audits and Controls
NG0002, 2017, Capacity Building
Extractive Sector Transparency
NG0003, 2017, Beneficial Ownership
Tax Reporting Standards
NG0004, 2017, Fiscal Transparency
World Bank Doing Business Index
NG0005, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport
Beneficial Ownership Register
NG0006, 2017, Beneficial Ownership
Anti-Corruption Informationi Sharing
NG0007, 2017, Anti-Corruption Institutions
Asset Recovery Legislation
NG0008, 2017, Capacity Building
Anti-Corruption Activity Coordination
NG0009, 2017, Anti-Corruption Institutions
FOIA Compliance for Annual Reporting
NG0010, 2017, Capacity Building
FOIA Compliance for Disclosure
NG0011, 2017, E-Government
Permanent Dialogue Mechanism
NG0012, 2017, Fiscal Transparency
Joint Governmnet-Civil Society Legislation Review
NG0013, 2017, Oversight of Budget/Fiscal Policies
Technology-Based Citizens' Feedback
NG0014, 2017, E-Government