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Recovering Your Debts in Nigeria (Part II)

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HOW CAN DEBT SITUATIONS BE MANAGED?



A creditor has a number of options open to him in obtaining his money from a recalcitrant debtor some of which are:



1. RESORTING TO LEGAL ACTION



The courts provide various avenues for a creditor to retrieve his money. In cases where there is no dispute as to the existence of the debt, for example, where the transaction is well documented between the two parties or the debtor declines to contest the creditors claim the creditor can institute actions for summary judgment either under the undefended list procedure in the High court civil Procedure Rules or under Order 11 of the Lagos High Court rules. Upon resorting to the courts, where a creditor can establish, that the non-payment of the sum owed him has affected his business, special damages can be demanded apart from the original sum owed. Also, where the creditor obtains a favorable judgment, and the debtor is still not forthcoming with the amount owed, court processes can be employed to levy execution against the debtors chattel both movable and immovable. However the problem arises where the debtor decides to contest, the matter as well, the Nigerian judicial system is not noted for efficacy but rather for its tedious and cumbersome nature, a creditor might end up spending more on prosecuting his case in court than he is actually owed.



2. POLICE INVOLVEMENT



Section 419 of the criminal code states; ‘Any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud obtains from…or induces another person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen is guilty of a felony…’ Ordinarily debtor/creditor situations are civil matters that should be resolved by the parties themselves, without police involvement. However where it can be established by a creditor that there was an intention to defraud on the part of the debtor, a creditor may report such debtor to the police or the Nigerian corruption watchdog – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission- as that will make the act a criminal matter as defined above.



WHAT ACTS AMOUNT “CRIMINAL MATTERS”?



- Where the debtor has obtained money by proffering fictitious aliases and addresses.



- Where the debtor has obtained money through tendering falsified documents.



- Payment for goods and services with dud cheques.



Anyone of the above mentioned, can bring debtor/creditor situations under criminal matters. The police then commence investigations upon receipt of a complaint of this nature. A drawback of this option is “The Police” Itself, not properly motivated they will always be susceptible to graft, coupled with the bureaucracy involved getting Nigerian agencies to do their work vis-à-vis sending such complaints to Abuja for approval before action can commence the tendency of the option to become cumbersome to the creditor cannot be ignored.



Click Here for Part 1







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