AN IMPORTANT PUBLIC ADVICE TO ALL OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN DIASPORA INVESTING AT HOME.
By Felix Osemwengie Isere,Esq
I am at this point pushed to quickly address our brothers and sisters in diaspora. In my few years of practicing lawyer , I have seen unimaginable things and i have heard sad stories .They are heartbreaking and very touching experiences indeed. I feel at this point, it is important to for our brothers and sisters who are not home to be properly advised on the need to take precautions in their investment in Nigeria either by way of acquisition of a property, investment in businesses or Savings in Nigeria, so that they don't spend all their years abroad labouring for their wicked and heartless relatives or friends, just to come home to realise they have nothing or have been defrauded because they trusted People.
1. Always ensure you have a Lawyer in Nigeria who always protect your interest. When ever anybody is going to acquire a property on your behalf, no matter how trusted the person maybe, involve your lawyer in the transaction . After the purchase of the land has been perfected,ensure you keep the documents with your lawyer, at the bank or they are sent to you immediately. Don't ever make the mistake of keeping your property documents with a family member or friends no matter how trusted they maybe to you; they may not have any bad intention to sell your property, but can be manipulated to do so.
2. Don't ever buy any property without involving your lawyer to help you do the investigation or conduct searches on the property if it has a CofO.
3. If you are sending money to your family members or a friend to build a house in Nigeria for you, always ensure they send you the pictures at every stage of the project and ensure you have a Lawyer or an independent person who visit the site everything to give you feedback. Don't ever rely on just picture evidence alone.
4. If whatsoever reason you intend to save Money in Nigeria, please open your own account in your name and send the money directly , but if you are unable to come and open an account your self, always insist that the relative or friend you are sending the money to help you save opens a new account for that purpose and your phone number should be used for receiving alerts and you can also use it to monitor all the transaction in the account through necessary bank codes or mobile application. There is a case presently at EFCC I am handling , a lady who has lived in Europe for years was sending money to her daughter in Nigeria to save for her, the money was about N32 million that was already saved but just to realise one that the said daughter was using her money not only to enjoy herself but to do 'father Christmas' for her boyfriend. Her 'trusted' daughter succeeded in waisting all her life savings in Europe.
5. Don't ever use the name of your father or mother to acquire a property no matter the level of trust you have for your siblings, if you are to do that, you must ensure you are their only child. I have seen cases where the mother or father whose name was used to acquire a property dies, the other children start demanding for the share of the property and feign ignorance of who truly owns the property.
6. If you have a property or anything in Nigeria occupy by tenants, give it to a lawyer to help you to manage or an independent Estate Manager. You can request that the money receive as rent be paid into your account or in the case of a Lawyer, he can open a client's account for you where all the collections will be going.
7. If you don't have any child in Nigeria or you are married to a white woman, you know your children are not coming to Nigeria one day to inherit the properties, please invest more in the children abroad and don't bother yourself investing so much in acquiring properties in Nigeria. More Importantly, have a will.
8. If you are a lady living with your hubby abroad ensure all the properties both of you contributed money to buy are bought in your names. This is not only exclusive to those abroad, even married couple in Nigeria.
9. Don't continue to spoil your siblings in Nigeria by always building a house and sharing the flats for them to stay. If they are working already, ensure they rent an apartment for themselves, nothing wrong if you support them but don't give them free houses or rooms to stay except if they are there basically to take care of your parents. . Doing this will give them a sense of responsibility as a man and stop laziness and unnecessary dependency on you.
10. Done ever allow the person who is selling land for you also be the one to give you a lawyer to help you prepare the agreement. It is very risky as there is nothing like having your own lawyer who will protect your interest. Immediately you buy the land, ensure you protect it immediately by applying for a CofO.
TAKE NOTICE, this my admonition is also important for some people living in Nigeria but however subject to criticism, and it is without prejudice to the trust you have for your family members or friends at home, but it is for you to take precautions to avoid stories that touch because in most of these cases I have personally handled or heard of, the people are usually victim of those they trusted so much, and it become so hard to get their losses back.
Again, The essence of emphasising the need to involve a Lawyer in your transaction is because of the need for your interest to be protected, Every Lawyer has a primary professional responsibility to protect the interest of their clients before any other interest. The training of a Lawyer is built on Trust, Honesty and Integrity. A lawyer knows the consequences of unauthorised spendings of a client money , or any other professional misconduct which negates the Integrity, Trust and Honest he is supposed to have when dealing with his or her client's property. No lawyer will want the hammer of the Legal Practitioner Disciplinary Committee to fall on him. Lawyers have so much to lose when found wanting unlike any other person.
Felix Osemwengie Isere, a lawyer and a Property Consultant writes from Benin City.