The Rivers Cooperative Federation, RCF, has called on the Rivers State government to fish out fraudulent cooperative societies in the state, and sanction them in order to forestall negative trends in the state cooperative movement.
President of RCF, Elder Michael Chinwo, made the call in Port Harcourt, the state capital, while speaking at an event to mark the 93rd International Cooperative Day with the theme, “Choose Cooperative, Choose Equality.”
Chinwo also called for stringent screening on any prospective cooperative seeking registration by the state Ministry of Commerce and Industry, suggesting that such documents as national identity cards, permanent voter’s cards or any other mark of identification should be part of conditions for registering new cooperatives.
He said: “As a business based on the principle of equality, we call on the Rivers State government, through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to as matter of urgency, mobilize its area officers in the state to fish out those fraudulent societies with the aim of sanctioning them to forestall these evil trends in the movement.
“The director of Cooperatives in the state should ensure that any prospective society that comes for registration is thoroughly screened. If possible, each member of the proposed society should present as a condition for registration, the national identity card, voter’s cards or any other mark of identification before they could be registered.”
In her keynote speech, the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Cordelia Peterside, said the ministry has limited powers in the monitoring activities of cooperative societies in the state.
Peterside, who was represented by the director of Cooperatives in the ministry, Mr. Sunday Kolzor, said, “Let me remind us that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has little to do with monitoring the cooperatives societies. We register primary societies; we register the secondary societies; we register the apex societies. But we expect that after registering these societies, the societies themselves will come together.
“But, like the President pointed out, what we experience lately is one man, one family cooperative. Except the law will say that we should request for national identity cards from those seeking for registration; if not, in the Ministry, we practice the cooperative based on the law establishing it.
“What we try to do, like with all the recently registered cooperative societies, we try to get the passports of members, at least the officers of the society. We try to get their phone numbers, and we try to ensure that they are a minimum of at least 10 people.”