GUIDE TO REGISTERING AN NGO IN NIGERIA

INTRODUCTION

An Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) is non-profit making body, association of people, or organization that functions independent of the government. In Nigeria, NGOs can be registered as an incorporated trustee under part F of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.

NGOs could be used to immortalize a loved one. It could also be used as a great post death wealth management option especially in cases where writing a will is most likely to result in dispute before probate is granted.

In this article we would be providing answers to frequently asked questions as it concerns setting up an NGO in Nigeria. In no particular order, below are the answers to frequently asked questions when it comes to NGO’s in Nigeria.

WHAT ARE THE LAWS GOVERNING REGISTRATION OF NGOs IN NIGERIA?

The Companies and Allied Matters Act is the framework for the registration and operation of business entities and non- profits organizations in Nigeria. It is the law that guides the registration and administration of companies, businesses and associations. The process and method of application for registration of non-governmental organizations is provided for in the CAMA 2020 under part F, Section 825.

WHICH BODY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE REGISTRATION OF NGOs IN NIGERIA?

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is the body responsible for the registration, regulation and supervision of all businesses, companies or association of persons in Nigeria.

By virtue of the CAMA (2020) as amended, the powers of the Commission has been expanded to include conducting investigation into the affairs of NGOs, obtaining court ordered suspension of trustees, appointment of interim managers and restriction on their financial transactions. See section 8 (1) (c) & section 839(1).

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTERING AN NGO WITH THE CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION?

The documents required to register an NGO in Nigeria are:

  1. A minimum of three proposed names for registration
  2. Particulars of trustees consisting of the Chairman and secretary such as name, residential address, date of birth, email, phone number, e.t.c
  3. Copies of passport photograph of trustees
  4. Copies of valid Government issued ID card of trustees (e.g Driver’s license, International passport, National ID card or Permanent Voter’s card)
  5. Extract of the minutes of the general meeting appointing the trustees and where the special clause rule was adopted into the constitution of the organization, signed by the chairman and the secretary.  .
  6. Trustee declaration form duly deposed to by each trustee in any high court in Nigeria
  7. Original newspaper publication in two National dailies
  8. Evidence of payment of prescribed fee.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO REGISTER AN NGO IN NIGERIA?

There is no fixed or general amount for registering an NGO. While there is no exact cost/amount required for registration, as the amount to be paid differ and depends to a large extent on whoever is assisting you with the process. It is advisable to secure the help of a lawyer who is an accredited agent and understands the registration procedures as NGO registration can be complicated if you don’t understand the legal technicalities involved in the process.  

WHO CAN BE APPOINTED A TRUSTEE OF AN NGO?

In Nigeria context, anybody can be appointed a trustee provided they are not;

  • Infants
  • Persons of unsound mind
  • Un-discharged bankrupt
  • A person who has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty within five years of his proposed appointment. Section 826 (1) of CAMA 2020.

WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR REGISTERING AN NGO IN NIGERIA?

The following are the steps to register an NGO with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

  1. Choose the NGO name. When choosing a name, make sure the name has connection/matches with the goals and objects of the organization. Three names or more are needed should in case the first one is rejected.
  2. Appointment of trustees. The trustees to be appointed must not be persons disqualified for any reason under the law.
  3. Seek Professional help. To avoid meeting problems you may not be able to handle in the course of cataloguing, it is important you engage the services of a professional lawyer who would assist with the registration processes. The solicitor will carry out the pre and post registration activities.

A professional will to a large extent assist with every other aspect that comes with the process such as; applying for consent to register an NGO with the available names, preparation of the constitution a minutes of the meeting, etc

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REGISTER AN NGO?

It may take up to 1-2 months to process the entire registration. This is largely due to the 28 days requirement for newspaper publication. Once your application has been received, such application will be considered and thereafter, the certificate will be issued provided the application meets the requirements.

CAN I RUN AN NGO IN NIGERIA WITHOUT REGISTRATION?

Yes it is possible to run an NGO without registration. However, there are some specific activities that can be carried out if the NGO is registered under the laws of the clime where it is being operated. An unregistered NGO will not have the opportunity of being awarded certain contract or project to carry out from the government. Also, in terms of fund raising, it may be difficult for the NGO to raise funds from the public. People may not trust an unregistered NGO to release their funds.

WHY SHOULD I REGISTER MY NGO? (EFFECTS OF REGISTRATION)

The reasons why it is important to formally register an NGO are:

  • Once an NGO is registered, it becomes a corporate body.
  • The NGO becomes entitled to buy land, own fixed assets and incur liabilities under its common seal.
  • It acquires a perpetual succession status.
  • Registration gives the NGO a corporate image.
  • It serves as protection particularly as it concerns the name of the NGO
  • Ability to open and operate a bank account in the name of the NGO
  • It affords the NGO access to credit from official lenders and financial institutions
  • It protects the NGO from personal liabilities.
  • Tax exemption. NGOs are exempted from paying income tax as they are not set up with the aim of making profit.
  • The NGO can sue and be sued in its corporate name.

HOW MANY NUMBERS OF TRUSTEES ARE REQUIRED TO REGISTER AN NGO IN NIGERIA?

By virtue of section 823 (1), a minimum of two trustees are required to register an NGO. By the extant CAMA, the application must clearly state who is appointed as the Chairman of the organization and the Secretary among the trustees.

HOW DO NGOs GET THEIR FUNDING?

NGOs rely on a variety of sources for funding projects, operations, payment of salaries and in meeting other basic expenses. Funding sources for NGOs includes: membership dues. Members can levy themselves certain amount that would be collected and used to sponsor a project, grants from local, state and federal agencies; Foreign government aids and private donations.

CONCLUSION

Do you have passion to impact lives, reach out to the under privileged in the society? Promote scientific discoveries, literary works, culture, religion, education, or to generally improve the wellbeing of others in any aspect?  Then registering an NGO is the best option and step to take.

Although it is possible to operate an NGO without registration, it is however advisable that you have it registered to be able to maximize all the benefits attached to registration which will give it growth and stability.

Need assistance with and clarification on setting up an NGO in Nigeria? Feel free to reach out to us HERE, and we would be happy to help you.

Cynthia Tishion
Cynthia is a lawyer and currently serves as Head of Corporate / Commercial Services at LEX – PRAXIS. With her passion for business and entrepreneurship, she is actively engaged in creating awareness on the legal aspect of businesses through various platforms such as writing, public speaking engagements.

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