The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Thursday launched an online register for the verification of beneficial owners oil assets and mines in the country.
The initiative is part of government’s efforts to ensure transparency in the extractive sector in Nigeria.
In some cases, public officials use the position to award contracts to firms they have huge interest in. They register such companies with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) using fronts. These legal owners are used to run the organisations.
Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr Waziri Adio, speaking at the unveiling of the register today, stated that the list of the beneficial owners contains extractive companies covered under NEITI ‘s audits.
“Today is a very important day because knowing who owns what in the extractive sector will ensure the growth of the country as it will tackle potential ills such as tax evasion, money laundry etc.
“Nigeria is joining other countries in the creation of its Beneficial Ownership register today. It might not be perfect but while searching for perfection, we should not be the enemy of good. Let us use it to create awareness,” he said.
Also, speaking at the launch, the Director of Communications and Advocacy at NEITI, Dr Orji, said the initiative was not created to go after anyone, but to create transparency in the extractive industry. “Let us use this tool for advocacy and enlightenment as this is not a tool to witch hunt anyone,” he urged.
In her remarks, representative of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mrs Chidera Onwuka, said, “We are delighted to work with NEITI in the unveiling of the Beneficial Ownership register. It is a great achievement in moving the country forward. We look forward to the tool reducing corruption and encouraging investment in the country.”
On his part, Chairman of Civil Society Steering Committee, Mr Kolawole Banwo, congratulated the agency for this idea, saying, “We must use this tool for public good and not as a witch hunting tool. We must be able to balance public information and privacy rights.”
To access the register, users must visit [email protected] and type the name of the company or a suspected owner on the search bar on the website to know what percent of stake such person has in the company.
At the moment, the register has details of beneficial owners of companies in the solid mineral and oil & gas sectors.