The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has reviewed its system of filing applications and other forms of transactions by members of the public, its Registrar-General, Garba Abubakar, announced on Saturday.
Mr Abubakar told reporters at the CAC headquarters in Abuja that the Commission has introduced a mailing system for applications to eliminate physical contact and interface with members of the public.
Under the new system, customers would only be allowed to submit documents they want to file for registration processes through designated courier companies for the CAC to receive, process and send back to them.
The customers are, however, given the option of either picking up the processed documents from the offices of the courier companies, or make arrangements for such documents to be delivered to them by the courier companies at their own cost.
Besides, the CAC said designated email addresses have also been established for members of the public to use in submitting and receiving of processed applications for specific online transactions, like consent for name and name searches for fresh registration of companies.
Customers are expected to send their requests or applications to the designated email addresses for CAC to process for approval.
Customers are allowed the option to request for an electronic copy of the approved documents, or the hard copy sent through their selected courier companies at their own cost.
The new system, which came into operation in Abuja last Friday, is expected to be rolled out throughout the country by August 10, except in the two offices of the CAC in Lagos, where it would be delayed till August 31.
Mr Abubakar said the Board of the Commission has already set the end of December this year as the target deadline to get the electronic/online system fully operational in CAC throughout the country.
Apart from continuing the ongoing reforms in the Commission to take its services to greater heights, the CAC Chief said the new system was in compliance with the new directive by the Federal Government and protocol by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The protocol demands the promotion of social distancing and elimination of all forms of physical contacts by members of the public to halt the spread of COVID-19 among the people.
Under the protocol, government offices were directed to limit the number of staff allowed to go to the office to only senior officials on essential services, while normal official business hours were reduced from eight to six, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
He said since the presidential directive, the workforce of the CAC has been cut down drastically from a total 1,310 staff to only 221 with only those categorised into Level 14 and above having to handle the volume of applications from an average of 500 customers on a daily basis.
“As a responsible government institution, we cannot continue to endanger the lives of our staff and customers, despite not having any incident of COVID-19 so far. But, we have a responsibility to take precautionary measures to protect our staff and customers.
“Because our (CAC) system cannot provide end-to-end electronic services for now, the management has adopted a stop-gap arrangement by introducing a mailing system that would allow customers to submit their filing documents through designated courier companies for CAC to receive and process and send back to the customers,” Mr Abubakar said
Although the electronic system of handling CAC transactions were introduced a few years ago, he said the management was forced to suspend it following customers’ complaints against it.
However, he said with the peculiar situation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary for it to be reinstated to eliminate all forms of manual transactions.
He said the mailing system would not stop at certificate dispatch operations alone, but would extend to all other processes, except those aspects of the operations still requiring physical presence of the customer.
“Online applications would be handled online, while those requiring physical presence of customers would require that these documents be submitted to the CAC through designated courier companies for processing and return,” he said.
‘No more handling of documents by customers’
Henceforth, he said the CAC would not allow customers to handle files and registration documents during application for search.
He said the CAC has opted do the search report on companies’ transactions and send to the customers for a fee of N5,000, to preserve the integrity of the records the CAC is keeping.
“The practice of allowing customer access to our document was compromising the integrity of CAC documents, as several lawyers have been apprehended with documents stolen from the Commission, particular documents belonging to companies under investigation or have dispute among the shareholders.
“Two lawyers have been apprehended for forging the signatures of customers in documents taken from the Commission and they would be arraigned for the crime,” he said.
On concerns about service delivery timelines, Mr Abubakar said “in view of the peculiar circumstances which would not allow businesses to operate the same way during crisis as during normal times”, the CAC has suspended all established service timelines.
The challenge of reduced workforce, the CAC boss said, will not allow the Commission to come up with another schedule.
However, the mailing, electronic and email systems, he said, would be allowed to take root to enable the Commission determine the average period for processing an average application and come up with a revised service timeline.
Meanwhile, to increase the capacity of the workforce available to attend to the growing official obligations, Mr Abubakar said the CAC has provided working tools, “like laptops and other accessories, for officers below Level 14, to enable them work from home, although the system was not originally wired to operate that way.”
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