How to register an NGO in Nigeria

A Non-Governmental Organization or NGO is a nonprofit institution, group of people or other organization that operates outside of the establishment of the government. 

Under Part F of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, NGOs may be registered in Nigeria as incorporated trustees. An NGO can be created to keep the legacy of a family member forever. It could also be used as a fantastic post-death wealth management option, particularly in situations where making a will is most likely to give rise to conflict before probate is granted. 

As it relates to establishing an NGO in Nigeria, this article addresses the general manner under the CAMA 2020 to register an NGO in Nigeria.

Steps to registering an NGO in Nigeria

An NGO is registered as an incorporated trustee in Nigeria. An incorporated trustee is any registration of activities that seeks to advance educational, cultural, religious, charitable, literary, sporting or scientific objects. An NGO to be registered under the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) must seek to develop one or more of the seven activities above. Below are the steps to registering an NGO.

1. The preliminary step

The first step to registering an NGO in Nigeria is to call the members of the NGO for a meeting. The members at the meeting will appoint the persons to be trustees to the NGO and adopt the special clause of the proposed association.

At the meeting, members can also adopt the constitution of the association, as well as write about the principles, goals, and objectives of the organization. When creating the NGO’s mission statement and purpose statement, members should be sure to include information about the organization’s overall goals, planned activities, guiding principles and so on.

To be eligible for appointment as a trustee, a person must be at least 18 years old, of sound mind, an undischarged bankrupt, and must have not been convicted of a crime involving fraud or dishonesty within five years of the proposed appointment. 

2. Registration of an account with the CAC

After the above preliminary procedure has been met, the next step to undertake is to visit the CAC portal to create a platform for yourself. When creating a platform fill up your name, address, email, phone number, and other required information by the CAC. Once this is through, the CAC would grant you access to their platform through your email or username and your password. 

At this point, it must be stated that the requirement of a lawyer to register an incorporated trustee is not compulsory, nonetheless, it can be slightly demanding, especially for first-time users. If you cannot take the demand and be patient, it is advised you seek expert help.

3. Reservation of the NGO’s name

After creating an account with the CAC, move on to the platform to find the section marked “new name reservation.” If you want to reserve a name for an incorporated trustee, select that option from the name reservation portal. 

For reservations, the CAC requires three names. Be as detailed as possible when providing names to the CAC. Provide names like the William Okon Women’s Association, the William Burrow Foundation, and the Association for the Fight Against Women Trafficking. Names with the words “limited liability,” “ventures,” “enterprise,” “group,” or “subsidiary” at the end should not be used. 

Additionally, avoid using names that are too vague, such as “Child Abuse Foundation.” Instead, use names that are as specific as possible, such as “The Foundation for the Fight Against Child Abuse.” 

After entering the three names, the CAC charges a name reservation fee of five thousand Naira. The CAC takes at least five working days or more to reserve the NGO’s name. If the CAC rejects the three suggested names, you would have to start over and shell out more money on reservation fees.

4. Public Notice

Following the provisions of CAMA, your lawyer or yourself will publish a notice of intention to register an NGO that includes the organization’s name, trustees’ names, its aims and objectives, and a request for objections within 28 days of the NGO’s registration in three (3) national dailies, one of which will be a local newspaper with wide distribution in the region where the organization is based (if any).

Public notice is a significant part of registering an NGO, it seeks to provide notice to the general public to object to the registering of the association if they possess any vital reservations about the association being registered. If an individual has reservations about registering an incorporated trustee, the individual would file a caveat with the CAC stating his reasons for the objection.

5. Drafting the Constitution and the Minutes of Meeting

During the 28-day wait period, take the opportunity to draft the NGO’s constitution, which will include the rules that will govern internal affairs, the NGO’s goals and objectives, the governance structure, the names of the members of the Board of Trustees, the statement of purpose and so on. 

You would also draft the minutes of the meeting conducted at the preliminary stage of the registration. The minutes of the meeting will include information about the appointment of members of the Board of Trustees, a list of those in attendance and those absent, the voting procedure, the members adopting the special clause and the authority to apply for registration, duly signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the Board.

6. Documentation

28 days after the newspaper publication. All incorporation paperwork, such as the properly completed application form in triplicate (stamped by the commissioner for oath), a letter of application, the original newspaper articles, copies of the NGO constitution as written, the aforementioned meeting minutes, passport-sized photos of the Trustees, and the impression of the NGO’s common seal, will be assembled. For the incorporation of the NGO, you must submit all necessary paperwork to the Corporate Affairs Commission.

7. Collection of Certificate

Following the completion of the necessary paperwork and filings, the Corporate Affairs Commission will issue the Certificate of Incorporation of the NGO to you through your CAC platform.

Conclusion

The registration of an NGO is vital to its operation in Nigeria. Most sponsors and partners feel more comfortable interacting with a registered association than an unregistered one. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can my NGO do business?

Not really, generally, the NGO is not required to go into business. The association make funds through donations by sponsors.

Do I have to file annual returns to the CAC for my NGO?

Yes, incorporated trustees are required by CAMA to file annual returns and keep accounts of their activities with the CAC.

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Richard Okoroafor

Richard Okoroafor

Richard is a brilliant legal content writer who doubles as a finance lawyer. He brings his wealth of legal knowledge in corporate commercial transactions to bear, offering the best value that exceeds expectations.

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