By Ifeanyi Clement Nweke
The concept of lending money is still an intrinsic part of human existence as we live in a society where money is an essential key to survival. However, quite unfortunately, obtaining license to lend money still remains a rarity. A few months ago, I was privileged to be present at National Industrial Court FCT Abuja during an ongoing matter on Money lending. It was clear from the facts of the case that the Money lender had a seemingly airtight case with documentary evidence to prove the lending of a huge sum of money to the borrower. The matter was however won by the defendants and subsequently struck out by the court when the issue of license to lend money was raised. At close of the court session, upon further investigation, I was informed by the plaintiff that he has practiced for years as a moneylender without the need for a license hence downplaying its importance. This plaintiff did not only lose a huge sum of money that day but was also made to pay damages for illegally harassing the defendant due to the negligence of not obtaining a Money lenders license. On the bright side, this event led to my obtaining Money lenders license for my first client in Abuja.
As I earlier pointed out in my previous article on how to get Money lenders license in Lagos state; prior to 1990, money lending was regulated concurrently by the Federal Government of Nigeria and by the various State Governments through the Moneylenders Act and the Moneylenders Laws of the various States respectively. However, the Moneylenders Act has been repealed leaving the regulation of money lending to the Moneylenders Laws of the various States of Nigeria. Their provisions are basically the same in all the states, save for slight modifications and slight displacements of sections. However, THE MONEY LENDER’S ACT, CAP 525 LAWS OF FCT VOL 3 2007 [hereinafter Moneylenders law] shall solely be the guiding law for purposes of this discourse.
Who therefore is a Money Lender?
A money lender is generally understood to be a person who provides financial assistance to individuals as a business, or for the purpose of making profit. But as is to be revealed, a moneylender means much more than that. In the case of Eboni Finance and Securities Ltd. v Wole-Ojo Technical Services Ltd. & 2 ors, the Court of Appeal held, inter alia, that:
The definition of a money lender under the law is wide. It encompasses every person whose business is that of money lending and any person who lends money on interest or who lends a sum of money in consideration of a larger sum being repaid.
Section 2 of the Moneylenders Law provides thus:
Moneylender includes every person whose business is that of money lending or who carries on or advertises or announces himself or holds himself out in any way as carrying on that business, whether or not he also possesses or owns property or money derived from sources other than the lending of money and whether or not he carries on the businesses as a principal or as an agent.
The purport of the above definitions of a Money lender is that for a person to become a legitimate money lender entitled to absolute legal remedy, the individual/corporate body must obtain the Money Lenders License to practice money lending in a particular state in Nigeria.
Below is a breakdown of how to obtain Moneylenders license in FCT Abuja. Some of the information are encompassing and applicable to other states in Nigeria.
BREAKDOWN OF THE STEP BY STEP PROCEDURES OF ACQUIRING THE MONEY LENDERS LICENSE CERTIFICATE
In order to eradicate the pall of ignorance and the difficulties encountered by money lenders in the act of money lending, an updated and comprehensive guide has been drawn below to aid acquiring of moneylenders license in FCT Abuja.
FIRST STAGE- Capacity in which you will be applying
The money lenders license can only be granted to any person/corporate body intending to carry on a money lending business. It is therefore pertinent at initial stage for an applicant having considered the nature of his/her business to decide whether to apply as a person or corporate body.
Differences: Applying as a person entails that a sole individual applies for the license. In this case, the applicant is seen exclusively as the sole moneylender. It is pertinent to note that a Business name also falls under this category. This is because a business name is the name and style with which you trade; remember that it is just a “style”, and it is therefore not different from you. Being a mere style, the business does not assume a separate legal entity; cannot sue, nor be sued and properties cannot be purchased in the name of the business. Hence, the proprietor of the business is recognized as the sole applicant and given exclusive moneylenders license.
On the other hand, the moment your Company is registered, it becomes a separate entity different from you (otherwise known in law as an “Artificial person”). Hence, when applying as a corporate entity, everyone within the umbrella of the company can operate as a moneylender.
SECOND STAGE- Application to the Chief Magistrate Court
As earlier pointed out in my previous article, any person/corporate body intending to carry on a money lending business, or any person/corporate body to be saddled with the responsibility of managing the business for that matter, must be a fit and proper person in terms of character and disposition. This and other qualities of the moneylender must be attested to by a magistrate in a certificate which is issued to the moneylender. This certificate serves as the Money Lending License Certificate in Abuja. To obtain a magistrate’s certificate, the proposed money lender must make an application to the chief magistrate court. In applying for the magistrate certificate, the following must documents must be provided;
- A cover letter (i.e. an application Letter for Moneylenders license addressed to the Chief Magistrate on a Letterhead paper with the company seal affix to the letter).
- Certified True Copy of CAC Form 2
- Certified True Copy of CAC Form 7
- Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company.
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Tax Clearance of the Individual or Corporate Body [Obtained from Federal Inland Revenue Service- FIRS] and if it’s a new company- provide proof that you are a registered tax payer.
- Police Clearance of the applying individual/ Corporate body [in Abuja, it is obtained from Zonal Intelligence Bureau, The Nigeria Police, Zone 7 Headquarters, Abuja].
- Evidence of Maintenance of current account under a licensed Bank.
FINAL STAGE: ISSUANCE OF LICENSE
After the aforementioned documents are gathered and filed, the Chief Registrar opens a file for the applicant. The file is assigned by the Chief Magistrate to any Magistrate of the Chief Magistrate Court. Upon assignment, the moneylender’s license is issued to the applicant by the assigned Magistrate for a period of one year, after which it may be renewed.
Ifeanyi is active in litigation and corporate commercial practice. -Finance Expert: He provides advisory, consultation and related services to SMEs, Startups and established companies on obtaining loans, Money lending and Debt recovery. For further information or assistance, please contact my firm at firstname.lastname@example.org, 08121101333.