Two-Point Petition Regarding Kaduna Office Of The Corporate Affairs Commission (C.A.C)
C/o 68 Ninzo Street
Mahuta New Extension
The Hon. Chief Commissioner
Public Complaints Commission (PCC)
Hon. Emmanuel Ogbile
25 Aquiyi Ironsi Street Maitama
PMB 68 Abuja
Federal Republic of Nigeria
State House, Aso Rock Villa
Federal Character Commission (FCC)
Prof. Shuaibu Oba AbdulRaheem, OFR
Plot 64, First Avenue off Shehu Shagari Way
Central Business District, Abuja
Corporate Affairs Commission (C.A.C)
Plot 420 Tigira Crescent off Aguiyi Ironsi Street
The Executive Governor of Kaduna State
Kaduna State Government House
Polytechnic Road, Kaduna
PETITION ON GOVERNMENT, ITS AGENCIES, THEIR COMPOSITION AND CONDUCT OF AFFAIRS WITH RESPECT TO DIVERSITY; CONCERNING SECTION 14 OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA: AGAINST THE KADUNA OFFICE OF THE CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION.
With reference to the new government’s professed commitment to change at the Federal,
State and Local Government levels in terms of transparency, accountability, adherence to the rule of law and utmost respect for the principles enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 (as amended); with confidence in the professed commitment of the new government to governance based on principles of democracy and social justice as captured in section 14(1) of the said constitution, we the undersigned, do hereby present the following two-point petition regarding the Kaduna office of the Corporate Affairs Commission (C.A.C).
The two points which are elucidated accordingly are:
(1) Apparent contravention of section 14 of the constitution;
(2) A pattern of arbitrariness, incompetence/negligence, shady and questionable conduct; and
We address this petition jointly to the PCC, President Muhammadu Buhari, the FCC, C.A.C and Governor Nasiru El-Rufai because of its significance to the Nigerian State and Polity.
- APPARENT CONTRAVENTION OF SECTION 14 OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
In view of the provisions of section 14 of the 1999 CFRN dealing with the Government and People, we are convinced that there is a fundamental breach of the section in the composition of the Kaduna C.A.C office, which affects its conduct of affairs, specifically 14(3) which provides:
The composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried-out in such a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies. [Emphasis added]
We the petitioners, as well as several members of the public, have had numerous experiences
of interface with the Kaduna C.A.C office. These encounters have demonstrated the wisdom in the stipulations of section 14. Sadly, it is clear to the public that the ‘composition’ of Kaduna C.A.C as a federal government agency, as well as its ‘conduct of its affairs’, do not reflect Federal Character requirements. The Kaduna office does not reflect or ‘recognise the diversity’ of Kaduna State as a federating unit, should it be argued that Kaduna C.A.C is a state office of a federal government agency. In this regard, the intent and letters of section 14(4) are instructive:
The composition of the Government of a state, a Local Government Council, or any of the agencies of such Government or Council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or Council or such agencies shall be carried-out in such a manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the federation. [Emphasis added].
Sirs, the intent and letters of these provisions clearly stipulate that diversity should be reflected in the composition of governments and their agencies such as the C.A.C. This affects those sited at the Federal Capital Abuja, or wherever else there may be branch offices. In the case of branch offices, the particular diversity of localities served by them will be the subject of federal character’ in ‘composition’ and ‘conduct of affairs’ as envisaged by the constitution.
We hereby cry to you on behalf of the diverse peoples of Kaduna State and Nigeria, alerting you that the Kaduna C.A.C office does not come close to reflecting either federal character, or the diversity of Kaduna State. Without prejudice to staff non-complicity, the office clearly presents itself and appears to the general public as a government agency composed of a predominance of persons ‘from a few ethnic or other sectional group’, the ‘other sectional group’ in this case being religious.
This situation has been noted by members of the public who interface with, and transact business at the Kaduna office, and this hardly augurs well for a state like Kaduna or any other state. You would be aware of past and current claims and suspicions of an alleged ‘Islamisation Agenda’ in Nigeria, Kaduna State and other parts of the country, levelled against even the present government which although probably unfounded, would certainly gain credence through the public’s assessment and perception of government’s treatment of section 14.
If this unfortunate reality is an inherited legacy, then the government’s inaction on the matter so far since May 2015, action subsequent to this petition, or reaction thereto, would constitute either a tacit validation of this constitutional violation through a sustenance of the statusquo, or an active promotion of policies violating the principles of democracy, social justice and the rule of law. We hereby notify government, confident that this is neither the intent nor the plan of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, nor of Governor Nasiru El-Rufai in Kaduna, nor of any other State Governor or government agency at any level whatsoever.
For the records we shall give facts on diversity, some of which you are aware of as subject of Judicial Notice, and some of which is the outcome of cutting-edge recent research on diversity in Kaduna State and Nigeria. The facts of which you are aware include the existence of 23 Local Governments in Kaduna State and of several religious professions: Traditional Religions, Christianity and Islam. Facts, of which you may or may not be aware, are that besides the Nigerian citizens from other states and other non-Nigerians resident in the state, Kaduna State is made-up of 74 ethnic groups, identities or nations (Nigeria comprising 706), a list of which is attached to this petition as Appendix A for proper elucidation and clarification. Of these, 27 are also found outside the state, while at least two are either now sadly extinct, or near extinct.
Strictly speaking and with due regard to proportionality, it will therefore be a breach of section 14 of the constitution to have more than one person from a single Ethnic Group, where the staff of the Kaduna C.A.C Office do not exceed 74 in number in terms of ethnic composition, or from a single local government where they do not exceed 23 in the case of a Local Government Area-based composition, or roughly a third of the total staff in the case of (if at all) a religion-based composition mutatis mutandis (Unless there are no qualified persons from other groups/sections, which is far from the case in Kaduna State).
To avoid equivocation and subject to clarification which we have sought from the Kaduna Zonal Head on 13 January 2016 and not been granted, it appears that the overwhelming majority, probably the entire staff in Kaduna is ethnically sectional, and of Muslim religious backgrounds. Our request for information pursuant to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011 herein attached as Appendix B, has received no response from the Kaduna C.A.C office within 7 days as required by section 1 of the FOI Act, itself an illegality! This compositional anomaly could be the case with a Local Government-based distribution also. Should the composition and distribution however be based on the whole country, the situation is certainly worst in reflecting section 14 CFRN. From our experiences, this violation of section 14 in the Kaduna C.A.C office leads to the following:
a. crippling/slowing-down of activities at the office at Muslim prayer times in terms of religion;
b. Overwhelming use of Hausa language in the office in official verbal communication, in ways that negatively prejudice diverse peoples unable, or unwilling to use Hausa;
c. public suspicion that the office transacts business discriminatorily in view of (a) and (b);
d. a sense of informality, personalisation, arbitrariness and substandard output by the staff;
e. Consequent on the foregoing, a breeding of unhealthy and risky suspicion against the government and system bordering on sectionalism. This in turn breeds alienation, distrust, disloyalty, mistrust of government and other indicators which ultimately manifest as remote causes of recurrent sectional conflict, as repeatedly captured in past government White Papers on conflict in Kaduna State and Northern Nigeria from 1987 onwards. This government cannot want to have one or indeed any of its agencies constituted and run in ways that sow the opposite of ‘loyalty’, ‘sense of belonging’ and confidence in the government. These are the very objects of the constitutional provisions in section 14.
- A PATTERN OF ARBITRARINESS, INCOMPETENCE/NEGLIGENCE, SHADY AND QUESTIONABLE CONDUCT
Drawing from our shared experiences of interfacing with the Kaduna C.A.C, also drawing from members of the public, and without prejudice to some individually committed staff of the office, we have observed a pattern of arbitrariness, incompetence/negligence and shady dealing. Arbitrariness pertains to front-line staff conduct, incompetence/negligence pertains to the handling of business, while shady/questionable conduct pertains to a suspected ‘parallel business’/cabal we have partially investigated and uncovered. We elucidate accordingly.
a. On Arbitrariness, we observed a number of acts/conduct that some staff of the office engage in, including but not limited to:
i. Indulgence in private affairs while customers wait to be attended to;
ii. Giving wrong updates to customers regarding the status of applications and documentation, including instances of staff giving contradictory updates;
iii. Selective attention to customers without regard to time and order of arrival;
iv. Conducting apparently private businesses/affairs at the expense of waiting customers;
v. Giving incomplete guidance and/or information regarding registration processes and other transactions of the Corporate Affairs Commission;
vi. Imposition of conditions that are neither imposed in other branches of the C.A.C, nor at the headquarters in Abuja, such as procedural changes imposed in Kaduna within the course of 2015 regarding the completion of registration forms;
vii. Imposition of absurd specifications such as the rejection of clear, legible and bold hand-written completed pro- forma forms, and demanding a particular form of manual type-written completion not commonly available to the public; also the absence of electronic soft version forms that could be completed in computers; and
viii. Frequent, casual and arbitrary nullification of forms requiring a cumbersome repurchase process at the Banks. This involves travelling to pay into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) with payment networks hardly available or consistent, only for the forms to again be arbitrarily nullified by C.A.C staff with casual contemptuous glee. We know the TSA means payment of actual amounts with receipts, unlike shady patterns of the past. However, it appears the C.A.C staff might be penalising the public for the introduction of the TSA.
b. On incompetence/negligence, we observed the following:
i. A record of reserving names in categories other than those indicated by customers;
ii. A pattern of dealing with name reservation applications in ways that suggest either insufficient education regarding section 30 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap C.20 LFN 2004, or pure impunity. This concerns the Abuja office as well;
iii. A contradictory pattern of giving feedback on issues to be rectified in respect of particular applications, whereby other issues are raised after earlier ones are rectified, and also raising issues with rectifications requiring what clients originally indicated;
iv. A pattern of giving either no information regarding guidance regulations/rules held by the C.A.C, or giving partial, incomplete and sometimes misleading guidance; and
v. Failure to distribute and/or sell copies of relevant guidance notes/regulations not otherwise available to the public in ways obtainable commonly or conventionally.
c. On shady/questionable conduct, we conducted a private investigation and discovered a network involving staff of the Kaduna office C.A.C on the one hand, and a certain nameless ‘Business Centre’ with possible links at the Abuja Corporate Headquarters. In this regard, we observed that staff of the Kaduna office place what could be characterised as ‘unwarranted obstacles’ on the path of members of the public, and C.A.C accredited professionals seeking to transact with the Kaduna office. They simultaneously direct these persons to said ‘Business Centre’. This pattern appears shady and suspicious, especially when viewed against the background of the Kaduna Office staff themselves directing accredited professionals and members of the public to this ‘Business Centre’.
To seek the subjugation of professionals to quacks in this manner appears suspect to us, and calls for an investigation as to the connections (whether financial or otherwise) existing within the network, and involving C.A.C staff.
To elucidate on this network, our sources visited the ‘Business Centre’ in the course of our
investigations, to seek a deeper understanding regarding why the Kaduna C.A.C staff would place obstacles on the path of the public and directly refer them to the business centre. Among our findings, we discovered that the business centre is located within the premises of the Kaduna State Library Board, opposite the former site of the Kaduna C.A.C office where it was located before moving to its present site. We gathered from those in the office that they guarantee processing any business with the C.A.C on the basis of ‘certain links’ they have with the C.A.C in Kaduna and Abuja.
The persons at the business centre claimed to have direct access to telephone numbers of the ‘deciding staff’ in the Kaduna C.A.C Office, and that any arbitrary procedural changes (difficulties) imposed by the office in registration processes are communicated to them so as to guarantee successful business. They were boastful enough to claim that such changes were introduced in the Kaduna office (and not other C.A.C offices) on two occasions in 2015 alone, and only they could guarantee successful transactions of business with the Kaduna office of the C.A.C for a while. This whole scenario leaves us wondering what else may be happening.
As professionals, we also discovered that all the ‘Business Centre’ requires from clients are
payment, signatures, passport photographs and ID cards. In other words, the content and/or substance of organisations seeking to be registered is determined by the business centre! This is a mockery of Company Law/Practice with regard to what is legal, reasonable and right.
This petition calls for further state vigilance and procedural relevance of agencies, because the patterns indicated herein alone could discourage Foreign Direct Investment, international cooperation, AID and support involving registered organisations and government itself. It borders on transparency, accountability, social justice, competence and democratic governance!
In view of the points raised and elucidated, we accordingly demand the following remedies, THAT;
i. the present composition of the Kaduna C.A.C be forthwith disbanded, dispersed with regard to federal character, and timely reconfigured from top to bottom to accord with the intent of section 14(3) and (4) of the 1999 CFRN (as amended) as far as possible;
ii. the new staff constituting the Kaduna Office be properly re-trained to be proficient, professional and conscious of the C.A.C as a government agency created to serve the sovereign and diverse peoples and public of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
iii. If the government deems it necessary for the sanity of Kaduna C.A.C, then an investigation be launched into the activities of the relevant staff of the office to determine their complicity in the network mentioned, and for further necessary action;
iv. a ‘Federal Character Task Force’ (FCTF) be set-up with a mandate to examine all governments, and all government agencies across the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with the power to enforce section 14 of the constitution as a matter of policy;
v. the composition of the proposed FCTF be drawn from diverse ethnic and other sectional groups, bodies and sectors led by constitutionalists. The bodies should especially include staff from agencies charged with duties related to the FCTF’s. These include the FCC for federal character, and the PCC for public complaints. The priority and need to sanitise the FCC, PCC and C.A.C should precede others, since they cannot give what they lack. In concluding, we aver that it is our confidence in some of the dispositions of the present government that impels us to honour the government with this petition. This also constitutes a consultancy service on understanding and applying constitutional guarantees of inclusivity, and on running a diverse and pluralistic state in ways that inspire a ‘sense of belonging’, ‘loyalty’ and confidence in government and its institutions. It is also a consultancy in the very art of democratic, as opposed to autocratic and arbitrary governance.
Dr. Kajit J Bagu (John Paul) compiled and articulated the research aspects of this petition and data relative to diversity, constitutional guarantees of inclusivity and conflict. He is a researcher on justice, constitutionalism, plurality and peacebuilding. His PhD Thesis (Edinburgh 2014) is titled ‘Cognitive Justice, Plurinational Constitutionalism and Postcolonial Peacebuildin: A Constitutional Philosophy on ldentity; the Global South, Central Nigeria.’
Twitter account: @jpkajit