How to Obtain a Moneylenders License in Nigeria (Part 2)

In the first part of this post, we talked about who should apply for a Moneylenders License and who can apply for it. If you missed that post, make sure to take a look at it here before reading this one. In this installation of the post, we will be digging into the actual ̶ ̶h̶̶̶o̶̶̶o̶̶̶p̶̶̶s̶̶̶ ̶̶̶y̶̶̶o̶̶̶u̶̶̶ ̶̶̶h̶̶̶a̶̶̶v̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶o̶̶̶ ̶̶̶j̶̶̶u̶̶̶m̶̶̶p̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶h̶̶̶r̶̶̶o̶̶̶u̶̶̶g̶̶̶h̶̶̶ steps you need to take to get your license. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your coffee (that is really important) and let’s rock and roll.

Step 1: Application to The Magistrate Court for a Magistrate’s Certificate.

The Law states that a money lender or anyone managing a money lending business must be “a fit and proper person in terms of character and disposition” and that the person’s character, qualities and disposition must be “attested to by a magistrate” (Moneylenders Law of Lagos state, 1990, sec.4). So, in essence, you are applying to the Magistrate Court in order to get attestation of your character. Well, it isn’t only Santa who is interested in if you’ve been good.

Now, we should clear up a few things (we seem to be doing a lot of that lately): because this Magistrate’s Certificate is an attestation of the money lender’s character, it is issued in respect of the proposed money lender, that is you, the money lender, not a group of partners or even your business as a whole. Magistrate Certificates are personal in the sense that they are issued to just one person. If you have a partner in your business, she will also need to apply for their own Magistrate’s Certificates. If your business employs other money lenders, each one of them will need to get their Magistrate’s Certificates. At first glance, this might seem contradictory to point number 3 under Who can Apply for a Moneylenders License (what did I say about legal documents, eh?). What that point above is saying is that the Applicant applies for the Moneylenders License under a business name (remember he must be the owner of, or partner in the business) but the license will be used by him, and the Magistrate’s Certificate with which he will apply for the License will be in his name. I hope that makes a bit of sense? It almost got me pulling out my hair too.

Another thing to note is that each certificate is address specific. This means that at the time of applying, you will provide your business address, which is the premises within which you intend to operate your lending business. If business gets good and you decide to open branches all over the country, you will have to obtain Magistrate’s Certificates for all your business addresses.

A magistrate’s certificate will therefore contain the following details:

  • The legal name of the money lender.
  • The name under which they will be doing business, i.e. the business name (this sort of sheds some light on that annoying point 3. You, Madam Ego Owónikókó, want to apply for a License for your company, Kudi Unlimited. Your application for the Magistrate’s Certificate will bear both your name and that of your company. The Magistrate however, will be attesting to Madam Ego’s character. Note also, that it is a stipulation that your business name does not contain the word “Bank”. So, if you’ve been feeling fly, and have gone to register your business name as Big Boyz Bank of Nigeria, you’ve entered one chance and have wasted a lot of time and money.
  • The address of your place of business.

To obtain the magistrate’s certificate, you need to apply to any Magistrate Court having jurisdiction in the district in which you intend to set up shop. The following documents are required for the application:

  • A cover letter addressed to the Chief Magistrate on your company letterhead. The letter needs to be sent by registered mail fourteen days before you make the application. It should include the following details:
  1. True name of Applicant (if the Applicant is a company, the name of the company should be stated here).
  2. Private address of the Applicant, or in the case of a company, the registered address of the company).
  3. Name under which it is desired to carry out the money lending business.
  4. Address at which the money lending business will be conducted.
  5. True names and addresses of partners, if any.
  6. Name of person or persons (other than the business owners or partners) responsible or proposed to be responsible for the management of the business. In the case of a company, the names of the Directors, Treasurer and Secretary should be given.
  7. Date of issue of any previous certificate and the name and address authorized by any such previous certificate.
  8. If previously registered as a moneylender under the Moneylenders Law or any repealed Ordinance, the date of such registration and the name and address under which the Applicant was registered.
  9. If registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act — Part B — Business Name, the date of registration and name and address under which registered should be included.
  10. Particulars of any convictions under any existing or repealed Law relating to moneylending of the Applicant, partners, or any other person responsible or proposed to be responsible for the management of the business.
  11. Particulars of any order of the Moneylenders Law suspending or forfeiting the certificate of the Applicant or partners or any person responsible for the management of the business, as well as any order disqualifying them from obtaining a certificate.
  12. Particulars of any refusal of a certificate to the Applicant or partners or any person responsible for the management of the business.
  • Certified True Copy of your company’s CAC form2 and CAC form 7.
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association of your company. (Note that the objects here must include “Financial Services” or “Money Lending”. The share capital of your company must also not be less than Twenty Million Naira).
  • Certificate of Incorporation for your business.
  • Your personal Tax Clearance (or for whoever is applying for the license).
  • Police clearance certificate for the applying individual from the Commissioner of Police.
  • Evidence of maintenance of a personal (i.e. the individual applying for the license) current account with a licensed Bank.

The application fee for this process is =N= 200 (Two hundred Naira). Should your application be successful, you will be issued with the following by the magistrate court:

  • Letter from the Chief Magistrate Court Registry. This letter is addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, confirming due compliance and recommending the issuance of the Moneylending License Certificate.
  • Moneylenders Ordinance (Form B) 1938.
  • Moneylenders Regulations Form of Moneylenders License (Form C) which needs to be completed by the Applicant.

In the case that your application for a Magistrate’s Certificate is refused, you can appeal to the High Court. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that. the process is intense enough without having to add an additional step!

At this point, I think I need to down another gallon of coffee! We shall continue this rather interesting discussion in a third installation, so please watch out for it.

References

  1. Eja, E.E. & Bassey, E.E. (2011). Money lending law and regulation of consumer credit in Nigeria. Nnamdi Azikiwe University Journal of International Law and Jurisprudence, Vol 2 (2011). Retrieved from here
  2. The Moneylenders Law, SLS 1990. Retrieved from here

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