A Co-operative Society is a voluntary association of individuals, united by common bond, who have come together to pursue their economic goals for their own benefits. It could be a private business organisation that is owned and controlled by the people who use its products, supplies or services. Co-operative Societies vary in types and membership sizes, but are all formed to meet the specific objectives of the members, and are structured to adapt to a member’s changing needs.
Co-operative Societies are governed by the Nigerian Co-operative Societies Act which provide for the registration of Co-operative Societies. The registration of Co-operative Societies is effected at the Office of National Civil Registration.
Co-operative Society is fast becoming an attractive socio-economic platform for like minds given the attendant benefits associated with membership. The best thing about a cooperative is it leverages on the power on the whole, the ability to get more done in shorter time with little resources. However, a good number of the Co-operative Societies out there are not registered. Ironically, the registration isn’t quite complex and can be conveniently handled if armed with the right information. This Article is aimed at providing the necessary information on how to register your proposed Co-operative Society.
Different Societies have different requirements as listed below:

  1. An agricultural Society must have no less than fifty (50) members;
  2. A saving and credit Co-operative Society must have at least 20 members;
  3. People with specialized skills must have at least ten (10) members;
  4. Other types of Co-operative Societies must have at least ten (10) members.

In order for a group to be registered as Co-operative Society, members must satisfy the following conditions;

  1. A Member must be at least fifteen (15) years of age and above;
  2. The Board members should be at least eighteen (18)years of age;
  3. Every member must have a common need with other members of the society;
  4. Every member must be in an occupation relevant to the primary Society;
  5. A member must be capable of paying fees and buying shares.

Required Information for Registration
A Society intending to be registered should have the following;

  1. Proposed name of the Society
  2. Proposed location
  3. Objectives of the Society
  4. Purposes, to which funds may be applied, may be held, disposed of or invested.
  5. Membership rules (terms of admission, entrance fees, etc)
  6. By-Laws of the Society

Documents for Registration
The following documents are to be filed during registration

  1. A certified copy of the Resolution passed at the first meeting of the group with the Province Co-operative Officer (PCO).
  2. Feasibility study report on how the Society operates.
  3. Four copies of proposed by-laws of the Society.
  4. Letter of intent (to join the society) from prospective members.

Procedure for Registration

  1. Make an application for registration to the Director of Co-operatives and payment of registration fee to register a Co-operative Society;
  2. The application shall be signed and in the case of –
  1. A primary society, by at least 10 individuals qualified for membership of the Society,
  2. A secondary society which has a registered Society as member, by a duly authorized member on behalf of every such registered Society, and where all members of the Society are not registered Societies, by 10 other members and when they are less than 10 members, by all the members.
  1. The submitted documents shall be assessed;
  2. After assessment, if the Director is satisfied, a letter of recognition will be issued which will enable the group to operate as a Co-operative Society for 3 years;
  3. After three years, a Certificate of Registration will be issued, with a Certified Copy of the bye-laws.

Effect of Registration
(1)       The registration of a society shall—
(a)       Render it as a body corporate by the name under which it is registered, with perpetual succession and a common seal;
(b)       Vest it with power to—
(i)        Hold movable and immovable property of any description;
(ii)       Enter into contracts;
(iii)      Institute and defend suits and other legal proceedings; and
(iv)     Do all things necessary for the purpose of its constitution.
(2)       The affairs of a registered society shall be administered and managed by a   committee appointed by the members for that purpose.
As a budding entrepreneur, you stand to benefit a lot by belonging to any cooperative society in your line of business.  Co-operative provide you with the platform to network, expand clientele, develop your skills, save money, access loans, buy and development without any interference from land grabbers, amongst others.
This article is provided for general information purposes only. It does not constitute advice or an opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. If you have any enquiries about this article or require further information, please contact the writer, eki.durojaiye@lawbrief.org.