The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has proffered the introduction of a Property Verification Number, PVN, as a solution to improved transparency in property ownership in Nigeria
This solution was brought to the fore at the just concluded two days conference on tackling corruption through improved transparency in property ownership.
The event held in Abuja and ended on Wednesday.
Speaking at the conference, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law of the University of Abuja, Olanrewaju Aladeitan, said the PVN would be a good instrument to aid transparency, as every property owner would have a unique identification number that would reflect on every property the individual owns or purchases. According to him, this would reduce and aid exposure of property acquisition with laundered funds.
Another solution tendered was the public registration of beneficial ownership. The Director Legal Services of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Peter Ogbobine, explained the concept and suggested that the government should adopt it into law.
“Beneficial ownership declaration in Nigeria at present is legal ownership. Legal ownership is where the promoters and incorporators registered with the company are not necessarily the owners of the company. Until we can explore deep into who owns the property and how he acquires it then we have a problem.
“Beneficial ownership refers to the person who has control over the payment piece from that property. I might put my son’s name there, I might put a lawyer there but behind the lawyer, I control the property. How do you now establish beneficial ownership when it is not in law?
“In Ghana and Tanzania it is a law now but Nigeria has international obligations which requires us to have a register of all beneficial owners in the extractive sector and those that operate, invest or bid for licenses in the extractive sector.
“We have to create a public register where any Nigerian can go open the book and see who owns what and you see the names there. The civil society can now question where Mr. A got the money to purchase such property.
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