Nigeria | What is ‘Debt’ under Nigerian Law?
Contributed by CJP Ogugbara, CJP Ogugbara & Co (Sui Generis Avocats), Nigeria.
The Nigerian Supreme Court in AG ADAMAWA STATE & ORS vs. AG FEDERATION (2014) LPELR-23221(SC) defined debt as “any amount of money which is still owed after some payment has been made is what is called a balance. It remains a debt on the neck of the debtor. Limiting it to financial dealings, “debt” represents a sum of money due by certain and express agreement. It is a specified sum of money owing to one person from another, including not only obligation of debtor to pay, but right of creditor to recover and enforce payment.” According to the Black’s Law Dictionary 9th Edition, a Debt is a Liability on a claim; a specific sum of money due by agreement or otherwise. It could also imply the aggregate of all existing claims against a person, entity or state.
Debt can further be conceptualized in terms of nonmonetary object that one person owes another. Thus, goods and services which has been duly paid for but are yet to be supplied can also be considered debt. Debt does not spring naturally until there is interaction between demand and supply. This interaction in a very broader spectrum is called trade. Trade has generally and simply been identified as the act of buying and selling goods and services. It can be in the dimension of International; where it is between State actors or non-State actors respectively across two countries. It could also be Domestic but involving nationals from the same country or different countries. Part of the integral key features of trade that drives debts are trusts, credits, loans and overdrafts. Naturally, it is not in all cases that a buyer can afford to pay for all the goods and services supplied to him at a specific point in time. In such oftentimes circumstance, antecedents and history of trade relationship would normally birth trusts that lead to supplies of goods and services to the buyer on credit by the seller. These credits on supplies can be obtained both genuinely or fraudulently. In either case, the resulting debt crystalizes on the effluxion of the given time for voluntary repayment but the debtor refuses to pay despite demands made by the creditor or debtee.
Contributor: CJP Ogugbara
Agency/Firm: CJP Ogugbara & Co (Sui Generis Avocats)(English)
Position/Title: Founding Partner
For more posts contributed by CJP Ogugbara and CJP Ogugbara & Co (Sui Generis Avocats), please click here.
The Q&A Global is a special column run by CJO Global, and serves as a knowledge-sharing platform to facilitate peer learning and networking, and to provide the international business community with a global landscape of this industry.
This post is a contribution from CJP Ogugbara & Co (Sui Generis Avocats). Established in 2014 as a Partnership Firm in Nigeria, CJP Ogugbara & Co has been working along and engaging in dispute management, litigation and arbitration, commercial practice: real estate and investment advisory, tax practice and energy consultancy. Apart from the core practice areas, they also facilitate and extend practice to the development of clients’ businesses and corporate interests, especially as they apply to the Nigerian economy and investment circle.
Photo by Zenith Wogwugwu on Unsplash