Home Metro S4C, SCUML, financial institutions, others move to resolve challenges affecting NPOs
Metro - 4 weeks ago

S4C, SCUML, financial institutions, others move to resolve challenges affecting NPOs

.....As S4C ED elected Chairman of MSWGC

Stanley Ihedigbo

One of the leading civil societies , Spaces for Change (S4C), Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML), financial institutions and other stakeholders have intensified efforts targeted at resolving some of the challenges affecting Non-Profit Organisations (NGOs) in Nigeria.

As Executive Director of S4C, Ms. Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri was elected the Chairman of the newly inaugurated, Multistakeholders Working Group on Charities (MSWGC).

Speaking at the inauguration of the group, the Executive Director, S4C, Ms. Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri noted that the formation of MSWGC was as result multi-sectoral collaboration between the NPOs, financial institutions, regulatory bodies and government agencies to develop holistic solutions that balance regulatory imperatives with the need for financial inclusion and safeguarding civil liberties while combating terrorism financial abuse.

“We discussed the impacts of banks’ enforcement of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism regulations and the impact it was having on the activities of NPOs in Nigeria. “At that meeting, we examined a lot of impacts. It was acknowledged by policymakers, regulators, law enforcement, and NPOs that there were challenges in the implementation of those measures and they were negatively affecting NPOs. We agreed at that meeting that it was important to address the issues from a multi-sectorial perspective.

“The challenges are many including the difficulties with opening bank accounts, difficulties maintaining bank accounts, restrictions on bank accounts, and how it affects the delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in the States,” she lamented. She further noted that many NPOs found its difficulties in obtaining the SCUML certificates and some had their bank accounts blocked for that purpose.

“There were also concerns about certain policies around Bank Verification Number (BVN), National Identification Number ( NIN), and some NPOs have foreign trustees or foreign directors who cannot enroll for NIN, BVN, had their accounts blocked and it is not a good one like our country that needs a lot of humanitarian support. “The issue of high bank charges, where a lot of NPOs were now spending a huge chunk of their money paying commissions, charges, and all that, and these are public donations that are used to service those things. We rely mainly on donations and grants. Account maintenance debits are too high in Nigeria. Banks are fixated on making profits and rarely give any special incentives to account holders delivering social impact and humanitarian services.

“We also had concerns about the ways financial institutions, sometimes the overzealousness on the part of them as shown in the way they are implementing the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures was causing the problem. We also has concerns some areas in Nigeria, like in the Northeast, where they have few banks, the NPOs have to carry cash to able them to their jobs are arrested for carrying huge amount of money. These are challenges and we need to be resolved.

“The regulators also interested to work together with NPOs. Because the partnership will make their job more easier. They have turned out in their large numbers to be part of this conversation, and they are committed to working together with non-profits to address these issues,” she added.

In his remarks, Technical Consultant, MSWGC and Managing Director of Patterson Consulting, Mr. Pattison Boleigha, said: “All those issues facing the NPOs will be discussed and we will look for the solutions to it. That is why we have all these stakeholders coming together, includes  the banks, the NPOs and the regulators. We intend to look for solutions. We also intend to place them on specific persons for implementation.

“The essence of this stakeholder working group is to create that balance because we know that there are some NPOs that are being used for illicit purposes. We are going to use this platform to empower the banks, the financial institutions, and other designated financial institutions who will now use the knowledge they are going to gain from the group to be able to assist in determining who the bad NPOs are and who the good ones are.

“It is through the banks that a lot of these things happen. The banks will then know how to differentiate between the good NPOs and the bad NPOs, and then be able to provide support for the good NPOs and deter the bad NPOs from using the banking system to do any harm. This is what we intend to achieve. A lot of the controls that are required to be done here will lie in the financial institutions and the designated non-financial businesses and professions.”

He added: “There will be training. Also, we are going to be giving the financial institutions a copy of the National Risk Assessment on NPOs. The SCUML office will give it to them so that they can understand it. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidance note on NGOs will help the banks understand how to differentiate the NGOs and put them in the various risk brackets and be able to apply appropriate measures while dealing with them.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Humble story of a golden governor @ one

  By Emmanuel Nicholas Governor Umo Eno’s journey from a humble beginning as th…