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Apr 30, 2020

ARREST AND DETENTION OF MR EMPEROR OGBONNA | Dele Adesina SAN


Information has it that Mr Emperor Ogbonna, a Legal Practitioner in Aba, Abia State, was arrested sometime in March and arraigned before Magistrate Court 7, Umuahia on March 24, 2020. He was charged with an allegation of cyber-crime and terrorism in Charge No. U/144C/2020. He was said to have been remanded in custody by the Magistrate Court until he was brought before the Federal High Court, Umuahia exactly a month later on April 24, 2020.

Apr 29, 2020

Covid-19: When the Judiciary is No Longer the Last Hope of the Common Man. By Annakar Hallelujah Tor, ACArb


It has been three weeks and counting since the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (the Chief Justice of Nigeria) issued the directives for all superior courts of record to close indefinitely, citing primarily the protection of Judicial officer and court staff as reasons for shutting down the Justice Temples across the country.

However, as our courtrooms slammed shut to keep away the corona virus pandemic from spreading and in a bid to protect Judicial officers and their staff, little was done to secure the access of the common man to justice through the courtrooms; famed for being his last resort on the quest for justice. More disturbingly is how these developments impacts not only not the administration of justice but in the presumption of innocence of those awaiting bail hearing and standing trials in determination of their innocence or guilt, which can only be fulfilled in line with the provisions of our extant laws that requires a formal courtroom hearing. 

Also impacted negatively by these developments are the heralds of the common man - litigation lawyers who eke out their living from courtroom appearances and advocacy on behalf of the common man. With the hearing of cases forestalled indefinitely, it is hard to fathom the survival of legal practitioners, considering that the code of conduct for the profession restricts mixing the practice of law with any other practice or business. 

The nation’s Attorney General an iced a few day’s back that plans are in place to get the courtrooms up and running again, with the aid of technology to help with the reopening of the courtrooms. It is difficult imagining how swift the plan is going to be carried out, considering that very little technological innovations have been previously put in place in making the Judiciary more effective and efficient in carrying out its functions. 

While we wait and the Hallowed Chambers are being sought out, the hope of the common man is still hanging... on a very delicate balance

ANNAKAR Hallelujah Tor, ACArb. is an aspiring lawyer and an associate arbitrator with the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators. He is passionate about human rights and ADR. He can be contacted via LinkedIn http://linkedin.com/in/hallelujah-annakar-acarb-45a796b3 or his email weskingannakar@gmail.com 

 


THE RE-ARREST AND PERSECUTION OF EMPEROR OGBONNA ESQ BY DSS AND ABIA STATE GOVERNMENT : NBA DEMANDS FOR HIS RELEASE




Mr. Emperor Ogbona is a lawyer practising in the commercial city of Aba in Abia State. Information provided by the Executives of the branch Interim Committee confirm the following:

That Emperor Ogbonna Esq. was alleged to have made an online publication stating that the Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu allegedly visited a shrine outside the country where he was said to have sworn to an oath of allegiance abd secrecy to the former Governor of the State.

That the online publication was alleged to have been  made on the Facebook page of Emperor Ogbonna. Mr. Ogbonna denied being the originator of the post but that he only re-shared it.

Further information revealed that the State Governor was alleged to have made a personal statement to the Police on the matter and therefore, he is a Prosecution Witness. Mr. Ogbonna was subsequently arrested by the officers of the Nigerian Police Force and charged before the Federal High Court, Umuahia with the offence of terrorism.

Inspite of all the deliberate obstacles put the way by the State government and the Prosecution to prevent the hearing and grant of the bail application, the Federal High Court eventually granted bail to Emperor Ogbonna Esq only on the condition that he be released to a lawyer of not less than 20 years at the bar.

This, according to information, infuriated officials of the Abia State government who crowded the court premises, and said to have been led by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, one Dr. A.C.B. Agbazuere, who incidentally is also a lawyer.

The Abia State government officials accompanied with officials of the State Security Service (DSS) made forceful attempt to re-arrest Emperor Ogbonna within the premises of the Federal High Court but this was resisted by the prison officials and lawyers present because the bail term was yet to be perfected.

We were informed that the premises of the Federal High Court was made almost riotous by the insistence of the Abia State government officials and the DSS (apparently acting in concert) to forcefully take Emperor Ogbonna from the custody of the prison officials; the bar leaders present had to advise the prison officials to take Emperor Ogbonna back to the prison and to remain there until they perfect the bail term. Still yet, the Abia State government officials and the DSS personnel followed the prison officials to the Federal Prison, Umuahia. The leaders of Aba branch ensured that Emperor Ogbonna was safely in the prison before they all left.

The NBA was further informed by the Interim Executives of Aba branch that, it therefore, came to them as a rude shock, when they got information that the  Prison authorities released Emperor Ogbonna Esq. to the DSS officials and officials of Abia State government allegedly on 'order from above'.

The circumstances surrounding the arrest and re-arrest of Emperor Ogbonna by the DSS at the instance of the Abia State government are very disturbing. Without commenting on the merit of the charge, being subjudice, it is a fact that the matter has already been submitted to the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, and the Court graciously granted Emperor Ogbonna bail. There was therefore no basis for the further involvement of the DSS apparently at the instigation by the officials of the Abia State government to continue denying Emperor Ogbonna his constitutional right to personal liberty. The forceful arrest and continued detention of Emperor Ogbonna has made it impossible for him to perfect his bail term, and therefore, the actions of the Abia State government and the DSS amount to flagrant disobedience to a valid order of a Federal High Court and violation of the constitutional rights of Emperor Ogbonna Esq.

The Nigerian Bar Association, therefore, demands that the State Security Service (DSS) and the Abia State Government immediately release Emperor Ogbonna Esq. to face his charge before the Federal High Court, for which plea has already been taken and the matter adjourned for hearing.

The NBA trusts that the Abia State Government and DSS would not give the impression that they are above the law of the land and do not have confidence in the credibility of their complaint before the Federal High Court. The NBA refuses to accept popular opinion that the harrassment of Emperor Ogbonna Esq could be a subtle attempt to intimidate him to kowtow to any untoward compromise; if it is true, then it amounts to interference with the judicial processes by State officials who should know better, and this would be highly frowned at.

While the Nigerian Bar Association commends the leadership and members of Aba branch of the NBA for ensuring that Emperor Ogbonna Esq is allowed the privileges and facilities provided by the Consititution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the NBA shall continue working with the relevant authorities to ensure the early release of Emperor Ogbonna Esq and encourage actions towards seeking redress for the violation of his constitutional rights.

*Kunle Edun*
National Publicity Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association.

Five (5)  Tips  on how Lawyers Can Prepare for work Post Lockdown | Caroline Ibharuneafe, Mrs.

 

Globally countries and their citizens are still contending with the Covid19 Pandemic and its effects on lifestyle, health and even the economy. Most cities all over the world have been on Lockdown and curfews have been imposed to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the Corona Virus. This has also been the case in Nigeria, with a Presidential directive that has kept Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State on Lockdown for about 4 weeks, not to mention other State Governments that also imposed lockdown such as Kaduna, Kano, Osun, Oyo and Rivers to mention a few.
However, for the sake of the economy, President Buhari has directed that a gradual ease of the lockdown commences from Monday, 4th May, 2020. This means we would be getting back to work and the following tips would help lawyers get back to business swiftly :

1.Sanitize and Disinfect your work place :-
The first and foremost thing every law firm should do is ensure that all your working locations are safe and properly sanitized ahead of marking the first day after the lockdown. For this disinfectants should be used to clean the office especially easy contact areas such as door knobs, office stationary, tables etc. Also alcohol based hand sanitizers and tissues should be placed at all the common areas around the workplace. At the same time, you must also ensure that these things are refilled or replaced from time to time.

2.Keep a social distancing policy :-
While at the office, all members of staff should keep a safe distance from one another, and if any member of staff is coughing or sneezing, such person should be asked to return home and isolate. If the firm has a high number of staff, management may want to consider having a work roaster to ensure the office space is not crowded all the time.
 

3. Track your court matters :-
After the one month period spent on lockdown, it is obvious lawyers would have missed many court dates, pre-scheduled appointments and other official duties. You can begin to write to those clients asking that meetings be re-scheduled and also confirm new dates for your court appearances.
 

4.Minimize business related travel :-
During the lockdown many lawyers were able to continue doing business with the help of internet enabled applications such as Zoom. Also many courts have introduced guidelines for electronic filings and hearings, as legal practitioners, we can continue to take advantage of these applications to minimize business related travel by scheduling video conferencing meetings.
 

5. Ensure Staff Hygiene :-
Despite the announcement that the lockdown would be eased, many states have directed the compulsory use of face masks in public. Lawyers should embrace this practice and ensure they use face masks at all times, continous washing of hands and hand sanitizers.
 
All lawyers and law firms should consider the above initiatives to prevent further spread of the pandemic or any further impact on our businesses.
 
 
Caroline Ibharuneafe, Mrs.
Past Vice – Chairman, NBA Ikeja Branch.
#Integrity+accuracy
carolibharuneafe.com.ng
 
 

Apr 27, 2020

COVID-19 in Nigeria: Time To Think Globally And Act Locally | Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN, OON

 


The Coronavirus disease, COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of the public health system of many countries. The global pandemic has precipitated fundamental disruptions that that will change the ways in which many things are done the world forever. Nigeria is not left out.              

For Nigeria to handle COVID-19 successfully, especially in view of Nigeria`s weak public health system and paucity of funds, I need to make two overriding points: the need to depart from international strategy by developing a Nigerian Strategy in managing COVID-19 and diversification of the economy in view of dwindling oil revenue.

Legal Ramifications of The Novel Coronavirus | OALegal


The most significant incident to impact the planet in the last 6 months has been the outbreak of COVID19 popularly known as the novel coronavirus. This outbreak has reinforced the need for appropriate legal and risk management measures and systems. The pandemic which has now spread to 146 countries and counting first emerged in Wuhan, Mainland China and yet the world would never have imagined the extent to which the outbreak would travel; becoming classified as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. It has also caused global disruption of mobility and chaos on the lives of billions around the world as well as had considerable negative impact on macro and microeconomics.

An Appraisal of the SEC Proposed Rules on Crowdfunding and its impact on the Fintech Ecosystem in Nigeria | OALegal


The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed rules on Crowdfunding have elicited different reactions from stakeholders, it has rattled the cage of most businesses that leverage on the internet to access credit to finance their business, businesses that create an opportunity for other businesses to access credit on their platforms and operators of financial portals.

There is no gainsaying that the initiative is laudable and this is because of the three-way regulatory oversight and protection which the SEC seeks to administer on the issuers, the investors and the Crowdfunding Intermediary that operates the Crowdfunding Portal, where the credits/funds are accessed. 

Penalty For Inscribing Tribal Marks On Children | Arome Abu #OBSCURELEGALFACTS


In Nigeria, it is an offence to draw tribal marks on persons under the age of 18.

PENALTY 

-5,000 or 

-Imprisonment for one (1) month.

These marks are usually created with sharp objects, which gradually heals, and eventually becomes indelible. 

See Section 24 and 277 of the Child Right Act.

 

Arome Abu is the Principal Partner of TCLP.

CAVEAT: Note that this information is provided for general  enlightenment purposes and is not intended to be any form of legal advice.

Obscure Legal Facts is an exclusive daily publication of THE COUNSEL L-P. 

Plot 108 Idris Gidado 

Way, Wuye, Abuja.

abuarome@gmail.com 

+234 803 262 2359

+234 708 1156 539.

Twitter: @TheCounseLP

Photo Credit - Pulse.ng 

 


In Defence Of China’s Sovereign Immunity | Atiku M. Jafar



Since its outbreak in Wuhan, the notorious COVID-19 has spread to become a phenomenon that exerts effect on the world on a grand scale, cutting across every facet of human endeavours and decisively affecting everything it touches. While nothing else had shaken the world in a couple of years as the novel pandemic, it is only natural that such an enormous global event would inspire a lot of responses from a lot of angles.

Interestingly, the outbreak of the COVID-19heralds an era of landmark litigations, opening a floodgate of lawsuits brought by activists, nations and other disgruntled forces seeking to hold China liable for the deaths, untoward economic hardship and global turmoil caused by the virus. While these suits appear to be manifestly vexatious on account of lack of a watertight account on the origin of the virus or any plausible evidence that China did engineer and weaponised or negligently omitted to contain the virus,I do not want to venture into the nitty-gritty of these arguments as this is just a commentary on the propriety of the suit filed by a coalition of lawyers in Nigeria, and other similar suits elsewhere.

Ode to a Visionary Gentleman | Ada H.A. Nwafor


I thought I've met brilliant and smart people in my life. Yes, I thought so. But when I met this handsome, young man, though old according to number, I knew I still have lots more to meet.

He introduced himself as Deacon Dele Adesina, someone else told me he's a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

His Charisma is superb!
His voice, you could sit and listen forever!

Then the ideas reeled out by him? Fantastic, incredible yet so realistic. I was almost swept off my tender, tiny key legs shaa.

Just then I said to myself, "here stands my NBA President, come what may".

What am I supposed to do?
I've decided to follow DASAN and so, I'm expected to convince many others to follow him. That I do bearing in mind that politics is a game of number.

If we resolve with all our hearts, to preach DASAN to every lawyer we meet and talk with on daily basis, we'll populate our camp and depopulate the sides.

For the change we desire, we must be committed to this cause.

DASAN all the way!


Ada H.A. Nwafor
YLF Chairman, Okehi R/S

THE AFRICAN LAW FIRM STRATEGIC GROWTH CONFERENCE 2020 VIRTUAL CONFERENCE: DELE ADESINA SAN IS TRULY DETERMINED TO SECURE THE FUTURE OF THE BAR


It is no longer news that ESQ Practical Academy organized a virtual conference on the 28th April 2020 and Deacon Dele Adesina SAN who believes the future of the Nigerian Bar lies in Young Lawyers, sponsored several old and young lawyers out of his magnanimity to benefit from this conference, particularly the interesting segment of how lawyers can become virtual and embrace ce the e-lawyering skills in view of the arrival of web-based technologies and the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ravaging the world economy.
COVID-19 has a ravaging effect on the world economy and its intense and rapid spread forced most countries of the world to enforce a lockdown of every aspect of their economy including the legal profession.


The legal profession is not free from the lockdown and this made it very difficult for many lawyers to operate because the legal practice has been confined to the four walls of the firm (with files and research majorly conducted in the law library filled with avalanche copies of books and law reports) and the court (which obviously has no method of e-filing system).

As a young lawyer who benefitted from this sponsorship by Dele Adesina SAN, the conference was facilitated by senior legal practitioners across the world that are well exposed to the practice of law in Nigeria and other countries, from whom I learnt and understood the following lessons:

E-lawyering method should also developed: lawyers should take the opportunity of the lessons from the Conference and the Covid-19 lockdown not to be confined any longer to the firm's walls but practice anywhere irrespective of time and distance with the use of web-based databases and software system to interact with clients and prepare required processes.

Another important lesson is that law Libraries should embrace a virtual practice and take a new dimension. It is no longer a case where legal practice depends heavily on library printed information resources but e-lawyering approach that depends on electronic information resources such as e-portals, web-based computing devices, online databases and social media. Virtual libraries, that is, online libraries should be adopted where you practice law without necessary flipping through the pages of physical law reports before a well-researched brief can be written.

*Online clientele*: During this lockdown lawyers have been able to render little or no service at all, there are many clients who are seriously in need of the services of lawyers but due to distance and the lockdown there is no way to get the service required as the four wall lawyer cannot access his bricks. This is where E-lawyering becomes useful. E-lawyering involves rendering legal services online through web based technologies and with this the problems of clients are solved without physical contacts.

The Court is not left out, the E-filing system should also be adopted by the courts so that the courts will not be put on unnecessary hold in times like this. The court finds it uneasy to sit because of the large human resources and the physical contact required put into it for effective running of the judiciary. This calls for E-filling system in our judiciary. I must however acknowledge the fact that we have now began to hear the echo of introduction of e-filing system from the judiciary in the last few days. My hope and prayer is that the Judiciary makes this a permanent feature in our judicial process nationwide.

Deacon has the future of the Bar at heart, the future of the Bar are the Young Lawyers, virtual legal practice is needed more by the young lawyers, this is why DASAN sponsored us to benefit and implement it. This is one of the ways DASAN is coming to secure the future of the Bar.

Do you as a lawyer still doubt if DASAN is truly coming to secure the future of the NIGERIAN BAR? I have pitched my tent with DASAN in order to secure the future of the Bar. Please join me on this noble cause.

Saheed  Abiola
Writes from the Ilorin Bar.

Dele Adesina SAN commiserates with NBA Lokoja on the passing of Chief U.M. Enwere


My Colleagues and I at Dele Adesina LP express our commiseration with ths leaders and members of NBA Lokoja and the great family of Chief U.M. Enwere on the death of our learned friend who passed on at the National Hospital Abuja yesterday evening, the 26th of April, 2020.

Chief U.M. Enwere was called to the Bar in 1988 and was the pioneer Secretary of NBA Lokoja Branch. His passion for law, justice and advocacy was evident to all who knew him. He was a very active member of NBA Lokoja Bar. Chief U.M. Enwere's death comes as a big loss not only to his immediate family but also to the Association, the Legal Profession and the good people of Kogi State.

It is our fervent prayer that Chief U.M. Enwere rests in perfect peace and may God grant his family and relations the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss. 

Dele Adesina SAN

Apr 26, 2020

Penalty For Recruiting Under Age Persons For Pornographic Performance | #OBSCURELEGALFACTS BY AROME ABU



In Nigeria, it is an offence to recruit any person under the age of 18 years for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances.

Nigeria has no national laws prohibiting indulgence in pornographic film.

However, indecent exposure is proscribed under Section 26 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015, which applies only in the Federal Capital Territory. 

PENALTY

Imprisonment for a term of not less than 7 years and to a fine of not less than N1,000,000.00. 

See Section 17 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition), Enforcement and Administration

Arome Abu is the Principal Partner of TCLP

CAVEAT: Note that this information is provided for general  enlightenment purposes and is not intended to be any form of legal advice.

 Obscure Legal Facts is an exclusive daily publication of THE COUNSEL L-P. 

Plot 108 Idris Gidado 

Way, Wuye, Abuja.

abuarome@gmail.com 

+234 803 262 2359

+234 708 1156 539.

Twitter: @TheCounseLP

Technology; Best option for Nigeria Judiciary | Adeleye Adebola Valentine


The Nigerian judiciary noticeably started its operation in the year 1979 and since, it has subjected itself to the habitual practice of both parties to a suit being present physically for the hearing of the case which is at times dangerous and expensive to maintain. It is dangerous and expensive in the sense that processes are served physically at the last known abode of the defendant or respondent as the case may be and the person served might not even be within the jurisdiction of the court and he has to risk his life, take time that is needed to attend to business or family issue to travel down to the jurisdiction of the court.

The practice of physical service of court processes and full appearance in court continued since its inception the judiciary in the country till the outbreak of the pandemic which hinted the judiciary that hearing of law suits could not go on during the pandemic and some cases are left pending in court. The innocent are left to suffer behind the bar for what they know nothing about at the mercy of the virus. The judiciary has been, is and will forever be viewed as the last resort for the masses but when cases are pending in court and the innocent are kept behind the bar for what they did not do, then could it be said that the judiciary is the last resort for the masses? No! truth be told, the virus is easily transmitted amongst crowd and at court sittings, it will be transmitted faster than we could think of, then it is time for the judiciary to wake up to what they had been sleeping on since which is to welcome the advent of Internet Court for the hearing of law suits. Court processes could be served using WhatsApp, e-mail, telegram and any other electronic method which is far credible than service at the last known of abode of the individual. But with the look of things right now, I think the judiciary is just waiting for the pandemic to be over and get back to its traditional way of hearing suits.

Dele Adesina SAN has committed the last four (4) decades of his life contributing positively to the legal profession. | Adeboye 'Seye Thompson

 

The music industry has become one of the most thriving industries in Nigeria and this has grown in leaps and bounds since the turn of the century. Many artists have graced the scene inclusive of a certain David Adeleke (Davido) who has shown that he has come to stay. Beyond his reputation of '30 billion for the akant ye', he has developed a great fanbase, yours truly inclusive.

Featured by our own Falz alongside Olamide in the hit song 'Bahd, Baddo, Baddest', the only notable contribution of Davido to the song was his brag that 'Dele na my boy' stoking the fire of his 'beef' with Dele Momodu.

Today, I write about another Dele who however is not my boy but is my man and boss. He is Dele Adesina SAN, a man who has committed virtually the last four (4) decades of his life contributing positively to the legal profession. The Jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes had regarded the life of the law as not being logic but being experience but Oga Dele has shown that he has both logic and experience in abundance especially if his intimidating profile is anything to go by.

The legal profession in Nigeria has been in dire need of great reforms and the past administrations have no doubt done their bests. However, despite their best efforts, an egalitarian legal society in Nigeria has been a mirage, at least so far.

Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam of Verulam and Viscount of St. Albans (1561-1626) in the poem, Apothems wrote as follows:

''One of the seven was wont to say:
'That laws (sic) were like cobwebs; where the small flies were caught and the great brake through.'''

An egalitarian society is what oga Adeshina seeks to put in place coupled with senses of belonging and responsibility in order for the bar to retain its place as the pride of the legal profession in Africa.

Deacon Dele Adesina like Prince Otto Von Bismarck believes in the doctrine of the possible and the attainable. Thus, if you are looking for sweet words so as to make you forget your worries in the interim but no action, he might not be your man. He is however the man who acknowledges problems and seeks to tackle them head-on. With Adesina, I concede that good souls still exist.

My affections for Adesina SAN makes me think of joining a remix of the song 'Bahd, Baddo, Baddest' but this time with the lyrics, 'Oga Dele na our man, Dele na our man....' This I'd have gleefully done alongside legal practice but for the Rules of Professional Conduct on incompatible business. 'E pain me sha, but wetin man go do.'

Adeboye 'Seye Thompson writes from the Ilorin bar```

Apr 25, 2020

MSMEs IN NIGERIA AND THE EFFECT OF COVID 19 | NNAMDI MBANEFO LLM, MCIArb



MSMEs in Nigeria

 

S/N

Category

Employees

1

Micro Enterprises

Less than 10

2

Small Enterprises

10 to 49

3

Medium Enterprises

50 to 199

The significance of the role micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) play in Nigerian economy is a subject that has been discussed, ad nauseam, by experts, analysts and authors. The Vice President described MSMEs as the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization and inclusive economic development; and the most important component of industrialization as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

This sector comprises the average and below average Nigerians and resultantly constitute about 95% of Nigerian population. Consequently, the challenges and difficulties experienced by this sector directly or indirectly affect every household in Nigeria. 

The corona virus pandemic is unprecedented and is causing large-scale death and severe human suffering globally. The fact that the pandemic is still unfolding makes it challenging to forecast the extent of its economic impact, however, the possibility of a global recession has become concrete.

The ‘Big companies’, with the liberty of well informed risk teams, certainly, did not factor in the corona pandemic and its effect on businesses. At the tail end of the year 2019, as in every other year, budgets were prepared and adopted and managements were tasked with projected revenue for the first quarter of the year 2020.  Here we are. Priorities have changed; companies are stress testing and jettisoning profit making for a chance at survival. 

Majority of Nigerian MSMEs have no structure and no business plan. Under seemingly normal circumstances, MSMEs struggle with a lot of business challenges. This pandemic has worsened the situation and majority of MSMEs are in over their heads and are short of ideas on how to navigate this storm.

Along with the rest of the populace, proprietors of MSMEs are on lock down and are locked in with their family responsibilities. Majority have ventured into their business capital to purchase food items and other necessities for their survival and that of their families.  It is an unequal bargain. While stakeholders of established companies are currently devising ways to keep their companies afloat, proprietors of MSMEs are constrained to grapple for daily bread and with staying alive.

Notably, one of the major challenges facing MSMEs is lack of capital. For the majority, personal savings was the most common source of capital. Nationally, only a limited number of MSMEs (that are sole proprietorships) reported having access to bank credit.

The National Bureau of Statistics identified access to finance as a top priority area for assistance for MSMEs. The corona pandemic and the ruins that it would leave behind have made this priority even more impetrative. For the survival of MSMEs, the government needs to be creative and proactive in addressing this concern.  

 

 

 

 

Government COVID 19 Initiatives that affects MSMEs

Thus far, the government has taken some commendable steps. President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech of 29 March 2020, indicated that he has mandated a three-month moratorium to be afforded to borrowers under social benefits schemes such as “Trader Moni” (a Federal Government empowerment scheme created for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria), “Market Moni” (Federal Government empowerment programme to provide financial aid to micro businesses) and “Farmer Moni” (collateral free loans designed to help petty traders expand their trade). This is also reflected in the COVID-19 Regulations 2020 (Regulations) issued by the president, which contain directives to the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export-Import Bank to grant the same moratorium to borrowers.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has created a N50 billion targeted credit facility for households, and small and medium enterprises. Also, CBN has set-up a N100 billion credit support facility for businesses in the healthcare sector.

The House of Representatives proposed and is considering a bill titled “Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill”. The bill has been passed for third reading. Amongst the objectives of the bill, is the proposal that any employer duly registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap C20 LFN 2004 which maintains the same employees status without retrenching their staff as at 1st of March 2020 till the 31st of December 2020 shall be entitled to 50% income tax rebate on the total amount due or paid as PAYE under the Personal Income Tax Act Cap C8 LFN 2004 as amended.

While these are steps in the right direction, we urge the government to do more and to put appropriate mechanisms in place for the implementation of these initiatives.

 

Facts

·         Nigeria’s over 41 million MSMEs, account for more than 84 per cent jobs in the country.  Nigeria’s over 41 million MSMEs, account for more than 84 per cent jobs in the country.  The enterprises also account for about 48.5 percent of the gross domestic product, GDP, as well as about 7.27 percent of goods and services exported out of the country.

·         MSMEs generated 59,647,954 jobs as of December 2017, 5% or 2,889,715 of those jobs were created by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

·         It was observed that owners of Micro enterprises are less educated – 76.4% have Senior Secondary certification or less. Similarly, 78.2% of employees of Micro enterprises have Senior Secondary certification or less. By contrast, 51% of SME owners have attained either a Bachelors or Masters degree.

·         The enterprises also account for about 48.5 percent of the gross domestic product, GDP, as well as about 7.27 percent of goods and services exported out of the country.

·         MSMEs generated 59,647,954 jobs as of December 2017, 5% or 2,889,715 of those jobs were created by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

·         It was observed that owners of Micro enterprises are less educated – 76.4% have Senior Secondary certification or less. Similarly, 78.2% of employees of Micro enterprises have Senior Secondary certification or less. By contrast, 51% of SME owners have attained either a Bachelors or Masters degree.[1]

·         75.6% of Nigerian Micro enterprises have no business plan.  65% of Nigerian SMEs have no business plan.

·         The MSME National Survey reports that Nigeria Micro enterprises startup capital is as indicated in the table below.

 

S/N

% of Micro enterprise

Business startup capital

1.

63.8%

below N50,000

2.

20.6%

N50,000 –N100,000

3.

7.9%

N101,000 –N200,000

4.

3.1%

N201,000 – N300,000

5.

4.7%

over N300,000

The same report indicates Nigeria SMEs business startup capital as shown in the table below

 

S/N

% of SMEs

Business startup capital

1.

74.9%

below N10,000,000

2.

8.0%

N10,000,000 –N20,000,000

3.

2.0%

N21,000,000–N30,000,000

4.

0.9%

N31,000,000 – N40,000,000

5.

5.2%

N41,000,000 – N50,000,000

6

1.1%

Above N50,000,000

 

 

 

·     61.2% of micro enterprises (MEs) and 55.6% of SMEs depend on personal savings for startup capital.

·      5.3% MEs and 17.5% SMEs are able to access loans as a source of startup capital.

·     23.6% MEs and 11.7% SMEs are able to get startup capital from family members.

·     8.3% MEs and 5.4% SMEs get their startup capital from cooperative/Esusu.

·     For SMEs who had access to bank credit, commercial banks were the main source of these funds (91.9%), while 4.7% accessed credit from Micro-Finance Institutions, and 1% from Development Institutions.[2]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Conclusion

In addition to the human impact of COVID-19 there is enormous economic, business and commercial impact being felt globally.

Proprietors of Nigeria MSMEs are navigating uncertain times. They are in over their heads and now more than ever, they need all the affordable assistance from all quarters especially from the government. 

MSMEs are the foundation, of our society. They are fabrics woven into the very core of our economy. Such that the survival of Nigerian economy is to a huge extent dependent on the survival of our MSMEs. In the spirit of self preservation, it is imperative that Nigerian government devise practical approaches to ensure the survival of these enterprises,.

 

Commendably, the MSME National Survey Report, identified financing, taxation, unfavorable policies, power, water supply etc as priority areas for government assistance for MSMES.  There should be concrete plans to address the deficiencies in these areas within the shortest possible time.

It is important that the funds made available to MSMEs are well segmented and the process of acquisition simplified, to ensure its accessibility to proprietors of these enterprises especially the Micro enterprises.

During the course of this pandemic, There is need for initiatives that will train and inform proprietors of MSMEs of their options and foster financial literacy. At this time, requisite information and directions could be passed through the media. If the government is religious in implementing these initiatives, and committed to developing more helpful ones, then there is hope for MSMEs and for our economy post COVID 19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nnamdi Mbanefo LLM, MCIArb

Email: mbanefonnamdi@yahoo.com

Phone No: +2348034800288


 

                                                         

 



[1] Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) National Survey 2017 Report by National Bureau of Statistics

[2] Ibid