How to start an NGO in Nigeria – the ABC guide

Knowing how to start an NGO in Nigeria is always a concern for a lot of people in Nigeria. To know how to start an NGO in Nigeria, one must know the meaning of NGO, IT and CAC:

How to start an NGO in Nigeria - the ABC guide

  • NGO – Non-Governmental Organisation
  • IT- Incorporated Trustees
  • CAC – Corporate Affairs Commission

Moving forward, down your street, you see a Church; besides your residential house lies a Mosque. At the workplace, you have a friend that works with a Non – Governmental Organization in the adjoining office space to yours or your father that belongs to your community landlord and Landlady Association.

Then you begin to wonder about the legal implication of the Church, Mosque, NGO, and Association, most, if not all, are registered as an Incorporated Trustee popularly known as “IT”.

The law is that where any person or persons appointed by any community, association, educational, charitable or religious organization, social, development or cultural association, such person(s) must apply to the Corporate Affairs Commission as a corporate body.

That corporate body is known as “Incorporated Trustee”. I will highlight the various steps to register your Incorporated Trustee with ease.

 Select a suitable name for your organization

  • For ease, it is advisable that you select two names.

Appointment of Trustees

  • Pick or choose men and women that will constitute the board
  • Members must be of a sane character
  • Members must be permanently resident in Nigeria
  • Must not be someone officially declared as a bankrupt
  • Must not be a convicted person.

Obtain relevant information from your Trustees

  • Names and addresses (permanent residential address in Nigeria)
  • Date of birth
  • Contact details i.e. phone numbers, email, etc.
  • Means of identification i.e. permanent voter card, international passport, driver’s license, national identity card, etc.
  • Two passport size photographs of all the trustees

Begin your Application

  • Conduct a name search on
  • Procure the iron common seal of the trustees (common seal must be waxed in the name approved by the Commission)
  • Publication of notices in two newspapers – national and local dailies
  • Complete your application for registration by filing all the relevant information you collected from your trustees.

Submit the following documents – online

  • A formal application letter (duly signed by Chairman and Secretary)
  • Extracts of minutes of the meeting showing appointment of the trustees and the adoption of special clause
  • Receipts of payments
  • Two newspaper notices (national and local dailies) where names, objectives and address of the trustees were advertised for possible objection(s) from the public.
  • Sworn declaration forms of the trustees (attach Trustee’s passport size photograph)
  • Duly completed IT application form (attach Trustee’s passport size photograph)
  • Copies of the constitution duly signed by Chairman and Secretary and impressed with the Iron Common Seal of the Trustee.

Time Span for registration of  an Incorporated Trustees

Note the entire process may take a minimum of 35 days and a maximum of 60 days depending on availability of information and efficiency.


  • Name search – maximum of 24 hours (1day)
  • Newspaper notices – a maximum of 30 days
  • Production of iron – 24hours (1 day)
  • Newspaper notice – 28 days
  •  Trustee Declaration – 30 minutes
  • Final submission for name approval by CAC – 24 hours

Hire a corporate lawyer or solicitor

This is very crucial and important as your solicitor is able to deal with the legal technicalities of name search, formulating objectives of your incorporated trustee; and render spot-on legal advice on the registration process from beginning to the end.

I am glad you now know how to start an NGO in Nigeria or any other IT (Incorporated Trustee) registration.

READ Business Name registration in Nigeria


Written by: Oluwadamilare AJAO.
He is a Corporate Law Expert and partner at Brief and Case LP. Contact him for further inquiries at


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