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Nigerian Oil and Gas Law Reports

The Nigerian Oil & Gas law Reports is a fitting companion and a must have for the libraries of all legal Practitioners, Arbitrators, the judiciary and Judicial institutions, Ministries of justice, the National and  State Legislators, Federal and State Executive, National  Institutions, Law Teachers, Corporate Executives, Oil Companies and corporations, and stake holders in the Petroleum Industries.

This compendium of Oil and gas cases clearly defines oil and gas practice in Nigeria and shows the attitude of the Nigerian courts to many issues in this area.

The Nigerian Oil and Gas Reports is compiled and edited by Mr. Uche Nwokedi SAN, the Principal Partner of the firm.



Awards

In line with the firms corporate/ social responsibility, Mr. Uche Nwokedi SAN is an ardent supporter of Karate in Nigeria> he held the position of the president of the Karate Federation of Nigeria   between 2001 -2005   in recognition of his contribution he was presented with an award by the Federal Ministry of sports and  Social Development.

Recently in July 2009, Mr. Uche Nwokedi SAN, received an award from the St Gregory College Lagos Nigeria’s Old School association for the recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of the Nation.



Case Review

1. Impropriety of Arrest of Bank Debtors by Law Enforcement Agencies – A Review of the Decision in Mclaren v. Jennings (2003) 3 NWLR (Pt. 808) 470.

On 14th August 2009, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria invoked his powers under the relevant provisions of the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act, and the CBN Act by removing the management of five banks in Nigeria and replacing them with a new management. One of the reasons given by the Governor for his actions was the high number of non-performing loans in the affected banks. Subsequently, the CBN published the names of bank debtors with non-performing loans in national newspapers.

Consequently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission swept into action and arrested some of the affected bank chiefs and bank debtors with a view to recovering the debts.

The question that readily comes to mind is whether EFCC or any other law enforcement agency can act as a debt collection agency and as a result, arrest, detain and prosecute loan defaulters. This is as a result of the fact that there is no provision under our criminal laws or under the law establishing these law enforcement agencies which make the borrowing of money an offence. In Asake v. Nigerian Army Council (2007) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1015) 408, 430, it was held that borrowing money is not an offence in law.

The borrowing of money without an imputation of crime is a civil and commercial transaction which should not involve either the EFCC or any other law enforcement agency. This was the gravamen of the decision in Mclaren v. Jennings (supra) where the issue before the court was whether the Nigeria Police can collect debts. The court held at pages 484 and 485 that there is no provision of the Police Act empowering the police to enforce contract or collect common debts. The court further held that the Nigerian jurisprudence is replete with practice and procedure for enforcing contract or recovery of debt and where no felony is alleged not to talk of being committed, any arrest and detention to recover debts by a law enforcement agency is unlawful, wrongful, illegal and an infringement of the right to personal liberty of the bank debtors. In Odogu v. A.G., Federation (1996) 6 NWLR (Pt. 456) 508, 522, it was held that the Nigerian Constitution provides for guidelines for law enforcement agents in relation to the exercise of their powers. That the said guidelines make it possible to maintain a balance between law enforcement on the one hand and giving due regard and recognition to human rights on the other.

It appears that the proper approach for the CBN to recover bank debts is to institute an action in court against loan defaulters unless in cases where a crime or a felony is alleged to have been committed before, during or after procuring the loan. The decision in Mclaren v. Jennings (supra) was recently followed by the Lagos State High Court in Edwards v. UBA PLC.



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