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How to Register an Association in Nigeria

By Business Advisory Team
Updated November 16, 2022

In Nigeria, associations are formed by a group of people for a common goal. The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) registers them as Corporate societies, cultural associations, political parties, professional associations, social clubs, trade unions, or pressure groups to perform a variety of services or humanitarian activities. Upon registration, they are conferred with benefits like corporate legal identity and mostly tax-exempt, as they are set up for nonprofit, thus making them best suited from other business entities. 

They carry out charitable roles, human rights, and religious activities and also serve as political pressure groups in the society and because of this, registering an association with the CAC can be rigid, as it is the most regulated form of business entity.

In this article, we will highlight a practical approach to how you can achieve this and guide you on this big step.

How Are Associations Defined in Nigeria

In the Companies and Allied Matters Act (C.A.M.A) 2020 an association is a body of persons, registered under Section 823 of Part F of the Act known as Incorporated Trustees (I.T.) and its best suited for:

  • charitable purposes: examples Tony Elumelu Foundation, Folorunsho Alakija Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation. ...
  • Political parties: like the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressive Congress (APC), Labour Party (L.P) 
  •  educational development
  • human rights activities examples Human Rights Law Service, Child Right Protective Initiative Right, Women’s rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA)
  • membership activities, examples are: the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Institute Of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN)
  • religious associations, Examples are: Churches and Mosques  

Registering an association is similar to all other forms of entities under the Incorporated Trustees as it is registered through an accredited solicitor of the CAC, but before you proceed, you should have the accurate amount of members willing to be formed with the association as a board of trustees and a chairman at the hem of affairs.

After you have decided the board and its chairman, here are the key steps to registering an association::

  • Step 1: Name Search And Availability
  • Step 2: Application For Consent Of The Registrar General To Register The Proposed Name
  • Step 3: Name Publication In The National Newspaper
  • Step 4: The Registration Process After The Name Publication
  • Step 5: Uploading Of All Relevant Document

Step 1: Name Search and Availability.

In order to register any business entity or non-business entity, a public search is to be done on the Corporate Affairs Commission (C.A.C) pre-incorporation site: https://search.cac.gov.ng/ the link will appear with the site as pictured below:

The purpose of having the name search and availability is to enable you to pick out a unique name to rule out any similarity in pronunciation or spelling to any already in existence.

As an association registering under incorporated trustees, the name should reflect the object which it stands to do.

Example: “Association of Commodity market Women and Men of Nigeria”

“Academic Staff Union of Universities (A.S.U.U)”

“Nigerian Bar Association (N.B.A)

“Music Elder’s forum”,

"Network Of Nigerian Women In Politics",

"Amalgamated Union Of Market Leaders And Traders",

"Business Ceos Roundtable",

"Scientific Scholars And Inventors Forum",

"Climate-Change Advocacy Roundtable",

"International Motor-Bikers Club".

The above listed are examples of Associations in Nigeria. Just like their name implies, they captured their objects and what they do in the name choice or style.

Step 2: Application for Consent of the Registrar General (R. G.) To Register the Proposed Name.

After you’ve picked an acceptable name, you apply for the availability and consent code of the R.G. on the CAC website (also noting that the R.G. has the exclusive right to approve or disapprove the names subject to his discretion).

The Incorporated Trustee (I.T.) form asks for information like:

●     3 Proposed names of the Association

●     Address and LGA of the Association

●     ‌Brief description of the aims and objectives of the Association

●  Details of the board of trustees: full names, address, L.G.A, occupation, phone numbers, and valid means of identification.

As a mandatory requirement, In Section 826 Of The Companies And Allied Matters Act (C.A.M.A) 2020 kindly note:

● You should fill in a minimum of 2 trustees.

● The trustees to be registered must be 18 years of age and above; or of unsound mind; or not bankrupt; never convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty within 5 years of his proposed appointment.

After you have filled out the above details, make payments for the filing fees through the remitta portal on the CAC website.

Step 3: Name Publication in The National Daily Newspapers.

If your application was successful, you will receive a notice of availability report and consent code of the R.G showing the approved name, its approved board of trustees, aims, and objectives. The next step, as part of its requirements in the Section 828 of C.A.M.A 2020, is for you to publish a public notice of an intention to register an Association in two National daily newspapers. 

The publication should highlight:

  • Name of the Association
  • Full names of the trustees
  • Main aim and objective of the Association

We see an example of a newspaper publication in the image below:

Step 4: The Registration Process after the Name Publication.

After the publication of the names in the newspapers, you fill in other details on the registration portal, namely;

  • Quorum of the trustees at the required types of meetings,
  • The constitution,
  • Governing body,
  • Sources of funds and its application (as a Proposed Association, its major sources of funds will be from grants, contributions, donations, and levies from its members and its application is to fulfill the objectives and not to enrich its members).

Step 5: Uploading of All Relevant Documents and Downloading of the Certificate and Registration Documents.

Finally, after filling all necessary details in the registration portal, you upload other accompanying documents for the registration, which are:

  • The minutes of the meeting appointing the first trustees,
  • The newspaper publication,
  • Passport-sized photographs of the Trustees,
  • Trustee declaration forms,
  • Means of Identification and signatures of the trustees, etc.

Below, we see a sample of the upload portal for all necessary documents

After your upload is complete and you have paid the cost of N35,000 (the total cost of registering an association), you wait for the approval of the registration. This takes 1-2 weeks, subsequently, a notice will be sent to the accredited mail approving the registration of the Association, thereafter, its certificate, Status report, and constitution made available for download on the portal.

We see a sample of the CAC certificate below:

Step 6: Getting a SCUMML (A Special Control Unit against Money Laundry) Certificate.

A SCUMML certificate is proof that the bank account for the Association is not being used for money laundering activities and it is monitored closely for money trails to assist criminal investigations. It’s a requirement under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 for all Association to have when opening a bank account.

Following a successful registration, we apply for a SCUMML Certificate to the scumml portal with the following documents:

  • Association’s Certificate Of Incorporation
  • Status Report And Constitution
  • Agreement signed by the national planning commission (for international Associations only)
  • Tax Identification Number (T.I.N) From the Federal Inland Revenue Service (F.I.R.S); for clarification, you won’t incur tax as this serves as a mere requirement to be fulfilled in the SCUMML application form. 

Step 7: Bank Account Opening in the Association's Name.

This is most important because opening a bank account in the Association's name shows credibility to the society and the organization is ready to get financial support from the public and receive donations.

To open a bank account, you will need:

  • Association's Certificate of Incorporation Issued By Corporate Affairs Commission
  •  Status Report and Constitution
  • Official Iron Seal Of The Association
  • Tax Identification Number
  • SCUMML Certificate

CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO NEXT?

Registering your Association is the right step as this confers many benefits, e.g., 

  • Corporate Legal Identity; this gives it a corporate identity which enables it to hold or dispose of properties freely, sue and be sued in its own name, 
  • Tax exemption being a non-profit organization, 
  • Accessible funding from international and Government bodies.

It is, however, strongly advised that the above guide serves as a general guide on how to register an Association in Nigeria and it is not intended to substitute for proper client counseling.

For further steps and an apt consultation, kindly consult an accredited solicitor of the CAC to formulate and address key issues related to the governance structure and internal affairs of your Association.

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