Indian Law and the Islamic Customary Practice of Women Wearing Hijab – Rakshit Sharma

The Indian Law and the Islamic Customary Practice of Women Wearing Hijab

What is a Hijab?

hijab1  is a head covering scarf that some Muslim women wear in public. For many such women, the hijab signifies both modesty2 and privacy.

In some cases, the hijab is worn by a woman when she’s with men who aren’t in her own family. For other Muslims, it’s equally important to wear a hijab in the presence of non-Muslims, including women. Still other practicing Muslims choose not to wear a hijab at all.
The word hijab is Persian, from the Arabic ḥajaba, or “veil.” (Rumaney, 2021)

Why do Islamic Women wear Hijab?

Wearing a hijab is deeply rooted in Islam but is not mentioned in the Quran3, instead it is mentioned in the Khimar4. Verse 59 of Surah Al-Ahzab, states, “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be recognised and not be abused. And ever is Allah forgiving and merciful.” (The Hindu Bureau, 2022)

Westernisation started dominating Muslim countries between the 1960s and the 1970s. The resurgence of hijab began in Egypt in the late-twentieth century as a means to reunite and rededicate to the Islamic faith. The movement was known as Sahwah5 and the female pioneers of the movement adopted the Islamic dress, which was made up of an unfitted, full-sleeved, ankle length gown with a head cover that covers the chest and back. This type of a dress was called as a burqa. (Javaid, 2022)

Despite many criticisms of the practice of hijab being oppressive and detrimental to women’s equality, many Muslim women view the way of dress to be a positive thing. The dress code was seen as a way to avoid harassment and unwanted sexual advances in public and works to desexualize6 women in the public sphere to allow them to enjoy equal rights of completely legal, economic, and political status.

However, controversy erupted over the dress code and people from all backgrounds questioned the donning of hijab and what it stood in terms of women and their rights. People questioned whether in practice the hijab a female choice was truly or if women were being coerced or pressured into wearing it.

Ever since the discussion and discourse on the hijab intensified, some nations have attempted to put a ban on hijab while others have made it compulsory for women to wear hijab.

How many countries have banned the Hijab?

There are currently 14 countries that have banned the burqa, including Tunisia, Austria, Denmark, France, Tajikistan, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Netherlands, Morocco, China, Sri-Lanka, Switzerland. (FP Explainers, 2022)

Is Hijab banned in India?

India is a vey diverse country with many religions such as Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, etc. According to Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, India is a secular7 country and gives equal importance to all the religions, and lets its citizens freedom to practice, process and propagate any religion.

No, Hijab is not banned in India, but in January 2022 a dispute pertaining to school uniforms was reported in a government school in Karnataka where a Muslim girl was denied entry in the school because she was wearing a Hijab. Over the following weeks, the dispute spread to other colleges and schools across the state, with groups of Hindu students staging counter-protests by demanding to wear saffron scarves. This led to various protests in the schools and colleges and outside the schools and colleges and also a petition8 was filed in the Karnataka High Court.

The Hijab Controversy of Karnataka

This whole Hijab controversy started in MGM college9 in Karnataka. Some college girls were not allowed entry in the classroom as they were wearing hijabs, which was not in their prescribed college uniform. The girls started protesting for their rights which led to various protests across the country. When news reporters asked these Muslim girls about why they were wearing hijabs which were not a part of their school uniform, their answer was that – “Hijab protects their dignity and because they have been wearing it since an early age.”

Another girl said that – “Hijab is their first priority and education is their second priority.

The same question was asked to Hindu girls, and the students said that school is the only place where students from all religions come to study in a uniform way. The students said that if Muslim girls are allowed to wear headscarves/Hijabs then all students should be allowed to wear scarves, because the point of wearing a uniform is that all students should be equal in all aspects, and that if they want to wear hijabs and study then they should go in the colleges which allow them to wear hijabs and not study in this college.

The matter was taken to the High Court of Karnataka.

The Hearing and Verdict of the Case in Karnataka High Court

Petitions were filed in the Karnataka High court on behalf of the aggrieved10 students. On 8th February, the government closed high schools and colleges for three days due to protests and disputes over the wearing of the hijab. On 10th February, the High Court issued an interim11 order restraining all students from wearing any form of religious attire.

When the schools reopened on 14th February, the interim order was implemented in all schools and colleges across Karnataka, with students, and in some cases teachers, being asked to remove hijabs and burqas outside the school gates.

After a hearing of about 23 hours spread over 11 days, the court delivered its verdict on 15th March 2022, upholding the restrictions on hijab. The court ruled that the Hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and, hence, it is not protected by the Article 25 of the constitution setting out the fundamental right to practice one’s religion. (Plumber, 2022)


Wearing a Hijab in India is not banned in public areas in India, and it will not be banned in the near future as India is a secular country. The decision taken by the Karnataka High Court was correct according to me because it only restricted girls to not wear hijabs in schools and colleges as schools and colleges are places where a student goes to acquire knowledge and also learn certain moral values such as equality. The way through which equality is taught in Indian schools and colleges is through a uniform dress code which each and every student has to follow if they are studying in that school or college because before getting admission in that school or college the parents and the students have to agree to the terms and conditions of the school or college and if they don’t do that then their children will not be admitted to
that school or college because a school and college runs on its own terms and conditions or with the terms and conditions prescribed by the Government of India.

Another question arised in the minds of people when all kinds of religious attire were banned by the High Court of Karnataka, then Why were Sikh students allowed to wear turban and go to schools and colleges?

The simple answer to this question was that wearing a turban is an essential practice in Sikhism and if the court restrained the Sikh students to wear the turban, then the court would have infringed their fundamental right of practicing their religion.

Also, all schools and colleges which have uniforms have prescribed the Sikh students to wear a turban only of the colour of their uniform and no other colours.

Due to this, another question arose that if Sikh students can be allowed to wear a turban of the school uniform colour, then why can’t Muslim girls be allowed to wear hijabs of the colour of their uniform?

The answer to this was that wearing a hijab is not an essential part of Islam whereas wearing a turban is an essential part of Sikhism. Therefore, Hijabs are not allowed only in schools and colleges, but women are allowed to wear it outside schools and colleges.

I would like to share a conversation of mine with two Muslim women who were wearing hijabs in the Delhi Metro. I was a bit hesitant at first before approaching them to ask them about Hijabs and about their views on the situation that happened in Karnataka because the metro was really crowded and also, I was afraid of what if they reacted in an offensive manner. But I gathered courage, went to them, and introduced myself to them and also asked them whether they felt comfortable in answering these two questions.

They both introduced themselves and agreed to answer the questions, the two women had the Mother Daughter relation. So, the answer to the first question that is, why do Muslim women wear Hijabs? was answered by the first woman, who the mother of the second woman was. She said that she was ordered to wear the hijab at an early age by her parents because of two reasons, the first reason was, because it was their tradition of dressing modestly and the second reason was, so that the girl should feel safe from the evil men12 in the society. When I asked her what she meant by evil, she replied that evil men are those men who look at women as an object and not a human being. So, for being safe from such men in the society they were asked to wear hijabs by their parents and because of these two reasons this tradition is being passed on from one generation to the other.

The second question, about the situation in Karnataka whether they agreed with it or not?

Both the women had a neutral answer for it. They had no problem with the judgement of the High Court of Karnataka. But they said that nowadays girls are not safe even in schools and colleges as a lot of rapes are happening even in schools and colleges. They said that schools and colleges should be places where students should be given education not only from books but also, they should be given moral values so that they do not end up becoming evil men in the future. They ended the conversation by saying an especially important statement that, if by wearing the same uniform students see each other as equal, then the schools should also teach them that there is no difference between men and women and both men and women are equal in all aspects.

If this mentality13 of the society changes then all women can feel safe wherever they go at anytime of the day/night and also wearing any type of clothes. Thus, transforming India into a safe country for both men and women.


FP Explainers. (2022, March 15). Hijab ban stays in Karnataka: A look at countries where veils are barred. Retrieved from

Javaid, A. (2022, February 11). History of hijab in Islam: Why Muslim women wear hijab? Retrieved from

Plumber, M. (2022, March 15). Holy Quran Does Not Mandate Wearing Of Hijab; Islam Does Not Cease To Exist If Hijab Is Not Followed : Karnataka High Court. Retrieved from

Rumaney, H. S. (2021). Not Without My Hijab: Experiences of Veiled Muslim Women in India. Human Arenas 2021.

The Hindu Bureau. (2022, March 15). Hijab not an essential practice of Islam, rules Karnataka High Court. Retrieved from

Photo credit: The Telegraph | JAGADEESH NV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

  1. Hijab – A head covering scarf worn by Muslim women in public places signifying modesty and privacy. []
  2. Modesty – The quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities. []
  3. Quran – The holy book of Islam. []
  4. Khimar – A long veil worn by Muslim women as part of hijab. []
  5. Sahwah – Period of powerful social and political change in Saudi Arabia between 1960s and 1980s. []
  6. Desexualize – Deprive of sexual character or the distinctive qualities of a sex. []
  7. Secular – Not connected with religious or spiritual matters. []
  8. Petition – A formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to authority in respect of a particular cause. []
  9. MGM College – Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College Udupi. []
  10. Aggrieved – Feeling resentment at having been unfairly treated. []
  11. Interim – During the same time. []
  12. Evil Men – Here, evil men refer to men who objectify women or men who sexually abuse women. []
  13. Mentality – The characteristic way of thinking of a person or group. []

Impact of IP Law in the Economic Development of Nigeria – Ogooluwa Osilesi 

The Impact of Intellectual Property Law in the Economic Development of Nigeria

1.0 Introduction

In both public and private universities in Nigeria and in the various Faculties and Colleges of Law of these universities intellectual property law is usually a course resident in the Business or Commercial law departments of these Faculties and Colleges and this underscores its economic characteristics. This conclusion is further supported by a consideration of other courses that intellectual property law keeps company with in the business and or commercial law departments, such as the following: company law, employment law, law of banking and insurance, law of contract, commercial law, law of taxation and so on.

This phenomenon is not unconnected with the justified belief that intellectual property law and its branches is essentially economic and commercial in nature.

Intellectual property constitutes a significant subject which deals with the protection of creative and inventive works emanating from the exertions of the mental faculty. And because of its huge economic potentials, a no mean attention has been directed at developing, and advancing both the legal and administrative frameworks for interrogating intellectual property at international, regional and national jurisdictions.

Intellectual property law is in a nutshell, the legal rules and principles relating to and guiding the subject matter of intellectual property. It is a set of related legal rules that are intended to protect the products of human ingenuity, that is, intangible ideas, words, sounds, and it consists of two main branches as follows: Copyright on the one part; and Industrial property, mainly in Trademarks, Inventions (Patents) and Industrial designs.

It is to be expected that the subject matter of Intellectual property which comprises “legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and

artistic fields, and “the legal rights which may be asserted in respect of the product of the human intellect”, “that area of the law which concerns legal rights associated with creative effort or commercial reputation and goodwill”, and “a branch of the law which protects some of the finer manifestations of human achievement…”1 will, if its legal and institutional frameworks are properly developed and harnessed, cannot but impact positively on the economy of any such country taking appropriate steps to develop its intellectual property architecture.

The robust economic nature of the subject matter of intellectual property itself is made manifest in how the various countries of the world have embraced knowledge, skills and other results of intellectual activity as a tool in the fostering of the growth of their economy. Thus, effective intellectual property management is employed as a very important part of the development strategy of countries.

Intellectual property protection is not a new area of Law as the earliest attempts at enacting Laws on it dates back to the 19th Century. There is no debate about the added value of Intellectual property to the economy and individuals lives. Intellectual property rights have a vital role in growing the economies of countries all over the world. Various studies have shown that Intellectual intensive Industries and Businesses report better and higher growth, income and development than other industries.

2.0 Economic objectives of intellectual property law

There are two central economic objectives of any system of intellectual property protection. The first is to promote investments in knowledge creation and business innovation by establishing exclusive rights to use and sell newly developed technologies,

goods, and services. In the absence of such rights, economically valuable information could be appropriated without compensation by competitive rivals. Firms would be less willing to incur the costs of investing in research and commercialization activities. The second goal is to promote widespread dissemination of new knowledge by encouraging (or requiring) rights holders to place their inventions and ideas on the market.2

Technology and knowledge have contributed greatly to the economic growth of countries like the United Kingdom, USA, France, Japan, Brazil, India, Russia, China and many more. Thus, it is clear that Intellectual property protection has a huge influence on the financial improvement of a nation.

3.0 The synergy between Intellectual Property and Economic Development

The Intellectual property intensive industry of Nigeria keeps booming by each passing day and this has a staggering effect on the Nigerian economy. According to PwC Global entertainment industry, Nollywood which is the nation’s movie industry, is said to be one of the world’s fastest growing creative industries in the world. The industry contributed about $1.8 billion (730 billion naira) to the country’s 2020 GDP.3 The speaker of the house of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at a Two-day Leadership Master class training hat held in April 2021, said that the Nollywood film industry contributed 2.3% to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector of Nigeria also boosted the growth of the nation’s GDP by 2.39% in year 2021.4

Furthermore, other countries including the G7 countries, have also recognized a nexus between Intellectual property and their economic development. Thus, for example, the intellectual property intensive industry of the United States accounts for 38% of the county’s GDP, 52% of merchandise exports, 27.9% of million jobs and 46% of wage premiums.5

Intellectual property fosters economic growth through the following means:

(a) Promoting innovation by providing exclusive rights to and protecting the interest of the creator, providing incentives to invent and create and to produce socially desirable new innovations. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, the patent system “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”6 This also applies to other branches of Intellectual property;
(b) Protecting innovators from unauthorised copying, forbidding the exploitation or misuse of the property without the permission of the creator;
(c) Creating a market for inventions, creating platforms for financial investments, supporting start-up liquidity and growth and enabling a more efficient market for technology transfer and trading in technology and ideas;
(d) Facilitating vertical specialization in technology markets; and
(e) Supporting licensing-based technology business models.

The combined effect of all the above-mentioned leads to economic development and growth. Thus, a country with higher rate of technological growth is more likely to experience a higher standard of living than those of countries without much growth.

As much as Intellectual property law has its positive impact, there is also an adverse side to it. Thus, the impact of Intellectual property can be classified as positive or negative.

4.0 The Benefits of Intellectual Property Laws to the Economy

The business sectors and industries that depend on intellectual property Law represent an important and growing part of every modern economy, particularly as these economies advance from dependence on agricultural, mineral and low value- added manufacturing to higher-value products and services. Intellectual-property based sectors in both developed and developing countries are substantial drivers of GDP and

employment growth.7 The following are means through which Intellectual property Laws are of benefit to the economy.

4.1 Attraction of Foreign Direct Investment and provision of the necessary conditions for

Effective protection of intellectual property rights attracts inward foreign direct investment in various countries. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has conducted various extensive data survey whose results showed a positive correlation between the strength of Intellectual property law/rights patents, trademarks and copyright and Foreign direct investment. Economists discovered that a 1% increase in a country’s patent protection correlates to a 2.8% increase in foreign direct investment, and a 1%improvement in trademark and copyright protection increases Foreign Direct Investment by 3.8% and 6.8% respectively.8 Thus, weak Intellectual property protection will prevent investment in various sectors of the economy thereby leading to stunted or redundancy in the economy and may also negatively impact the country’s investment climate.

4.2 Fostering of Research and Development in the country

Free riding has a negative effect on innovations. Studies have shown that there is a tendency for individuals and industries to under invest in Research and Development in the absence of effective Intellectual Property laws. This is because these creative works will not be defended from free riders. This implies that individuals and industries that do not fully recover their investments are dissuaded from engaging in Research and Development due to the activities of free riders. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also discovered that a 1% increase in the strength of patent protection in developing countries correlates to a

nearly 1% increase in domestic research and development. Also, increase in trademark and copyright protection correlates to a 1.4% and a 3.3% increase in domestic research and development, respectively.9 Intellectual property Laws that are effective prevents this by reassuring these individuals and industries that their creations are free from the antics of cheats and free riders.

4.3 Intellectual Property Laws attracts venture-capital investment

Intellectual property protection attracts Venture-capital investment in Research and development and for the commercialization of innovative products and services. It aids firms or individuals in getting funding from investors as venture-capitalist.

4.4 Intellectual property rights could play a significant role in encouraging innovation, product development, and technical change

By protection of intellectual property rights, individuals and firms are motivated to create more, innovate and improve existing innovations. This is a win-win situation in that the state benefits economically, while the individuals are rewarded by their interest in the creation being protected. The combined effect of these innovations is critical for economic growth and productivity activity. For example, then protection of utility models has been shown to improve productivity in countries with lagging technologies such as Brazil and Phillipine. It has been concluded that Utility models were an important source of technical change in Japan. Protection also adds value to these innovations.

4.5 Intellectual property rights also could stimulate acquisition and dissemination of new information

Protection of Intellectual property rights affords firms confidence that they face limited threats of uncompensated misappropriation. This certainty could induce them to trade and license their technologies and products more readily, enhancing

their diffusion into the economy.

4.6 Facilitation of transfer of technology

Intellectual property rights help in increasing innovation and technology diffusion.

Technology transfer is the process of disseminating technology from the owner of the intellectual property to another. Technology transfer ensures that new scientific and technological developments are easily accessible by a broader range of users who can then exploit the said developments and make new bye-products from it. The advances in technology furthers the growth and development of the economy at large, making the public the ultimate beneficiary of these transfers and advancements.

Thus, technology transfer is critical for nations as it promotes economic progress and prosperity. Therefore, effective Intellectual property laws will help protect inventor’s interest and maximize inventor’s incentive for the particular technology.

Furthermore, effective intellectual property laws help developing countries access foreign technology.

5.0 Negative Impact of Intellectual Property Laws on Economic Development.

Of a truth, Intellectual property laws is capable of fostering economic growth and development, it may however, have an adverse effect on the economy as well. These laws might also raise difficulties on the economy. Below are possible negative impacts that Intellectual property laws could have on the economy:

5.1 Monopoly

Intellectual property laws support monopoly. This creates barriers preventing others from using the innovation thereby allowing the inventor to charge prices which are times outrageous since consumers will have no other or limited options. Studies have shown that where intellectual property laws are in place, there tends to be monopoly of the market.

5.2 Absence of competition

Competition is the most important factor for the development of an economy. This serves as a form of check and balance on products, services and their prices. It also ensures that consumers are satisfied better by having a variety of options to pick from. It also helps to keep industries in their toes to provide products and services of better quality. However, Intellectual property laws may serve as an hinderance to this as it provides security to the creators and inventors.

5.3 Diminished access to Technology

A fundamental concern raised about intellectual property protection is that their exploitation could result in diminished access to technological information. This can be by inventors or creators raising imitation costs and placing considerable pressures on imitative enterprises in developing economies. Thus, a paramount worry for developing countries is that protection of intellectual property could result in higher costs for the use of new technologies.

5.4 Increased cost of administration and enforcement

Cost associated with administration and enforcement of Intellectual property Laws are expensive and may be burdensome to the government of developing countries.

5.5 Economic and social costs

Effective Intellectual property laws might also raise difficult economic and social costs. Developing economies could experience net welfare losses in the short run because many of the costs of protection could emerge earlier than the potential benefits.

6.0 Summary

In summary, policies which include strengthening of human capital and skill acquisition, promotion of flexibility in enterprises and organizations, ensuring a strong degree of competition in domestic markets, and development of a transparent, non- discriminatory, and effective competition regime will all aid in ensuring intellectual property Laws has maximum positive on the Nigerian economy.

This is supported by statistics that have shown that Intellectual properties crimes cost nations’ economies a huge amount. In the United States, intellectual property crimes cost the countries’ economy 180billion dollars from theft of trade secrets, 18 billion dollars from pirated U.S software and 29 billion dollars in displaced legitimate sales due to counterfeit and pirated goods.10

7.0 Conclusion

In conclusion, the absence of effective intellectual property laws deprives a country of huge revenues that could boost the development of the country. This is supported by statistics that have shown that Intellectual properties crimes deprives many countries’ economies huge amounts. The president of Nigeria disclosed at the inauguration of Falcon Eye Project, Nigerian Navy’s Strategic Maritime Surveillance System, in July, 2021, that the country loses about 26.3 billion dollars annually to various forms of criminality particularly Piracy and sea robbery. This emphasises the adverse effect that lack of effective intellectual property laws has on the economy. In the United States, intellectual property crimes cost the country’s economy 180billion dollars from theft of trade secrets, 18 billion dollars from pirated U.S software and 29 billion dollars in displaced legitimate sales due to counterfeit and pirated goods.11

However, that a Law has a few disadvantages does not mean it is to be stashed away and neglected by the society as this would deprive society of the numerous benefits it could fetch the economy. Although, Intellectual property Laws may have a negative impact on an economy in certain instances, it is still very much clear and

obvious that its pros outweigh its cons

Furthermore, the negative impacts can be worked on to the barest minimum by the following ways:

8.0 Recommendations

8.1 Imperatives of a review and update of extant Intellectual Property Laws

It is recommended and advised that to get the maximum benefit afforded by Intellectual property to the economy, existing laws be reviewed, amended and updated. This will help for more economic activity and interest in the economy by both external and internal investors

8.2 Implementation of procompetitive standards

It is suggested that standards should be established that encourage learning and follow up on innovation within the intellectual property system/ domain.

8.3 Enhance capacities to develop and use intellectual properties:

it is imperative that the country works on enhancing and fostering capacities and abilities to develop and use intellectual properties. This ca be by making trainings and education in this respect available and affordable.

8.4 Promote competitive markets:

one of the important determinants of the success of an intellectual property protection regime is the competitive nature of the markets within which it operates. This is because competitive markets have been shown to reduce or prevent monopoly in the economy. This will be aided by development of competition policies as well.

All of the above-mentioned benefits will not be maximized in the absence of effective intellectual property rights and administration. It is therefore imperative that necessary steps are taken to put this in order in the Nigerian setting.

Furthermore, it is advised that the Nigerian government works in light of the

aforementioned to better access the benefits afforded an economy by effective intellectual property laws as this could generate more international economic activity and greater indigenous innovations.

In addition, relevant treaties should be ratified and enacted into our National Laws as soon as possible by the Nigeran legislative house. There should also be improvement on government policies especially in commercialization of invention where financial difficulty is encountered as well as encouragement of research and development by the Federal Government through different means possible12.

1Oyewunmi AdejokeO, Nigerian Law of Intellectual Property, University of Lagos Press and Bookshop Ltd, (2015) pp.2-3. Learned Author was considering the various definitions of Intellectual Property from the many viewpoints by WIPO, Intellectual Property Handbook, (2nd Ed. WIPO Publication No 489 (E) Geneva, 2004); Jeremy Philips and Alison Firth, Introduction to Intellectual Property Law,(4th Ed., London: Butterworth, 2001)p.4;Bainbridge, David, Intellectual Property (6thEd., Essex: Pearson 2007) 3; and Cornish William and Llewellyn David, Cornish & Llewellyn’s Intellectual Property: Patents, Copyright, Trademarks and Allied Rights (6thEd., London: Sweetand Maxwell,2003) 3.

2Keith E. Maskus, Intellectual Property Rights and Economic Development, 32Case W. Res. J. Int’lL.471 (2000) Available at:




6Nicolay and Hay 1905, 113.


8 “Promoting and protecting Intellectual Property in Nigeria”, pg 5, Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy, available at Intellectual-Property-in-Nigeria.pdf

9“Promoting and protecting Intellectual Property in Nigeria”, pg5, Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy, available at




About the Author

Ogooluwa Osilesi is a final year student of law at Olabisi Onabanjo University. Her interests in law include, but not limited to Intellectual property law, Corporate Finance, Commercial Dispute Resolution, Energy law and legal technology, amongst others.

Land in Nigeria: Registration, Agreement, C of O, Documents (+Lawyer)

Land Matters in Nigeria

How to register your land, make land agreement, make land papers, or get Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)? Hang on!

Do you know it’s not only when someone acquire a land or landed property forcefully that he can lose it to the government or other people? Yes! Your property can be confiscated when you have not done the necessary registration of the land and other requirements that can declare you as the legal owner of the land.

Whatever you want to do about that land, contact our recommended lawyer today. Or call 08133354407

How then do you protect your land? Follow this article to the end and see tips that will help you protect your land.

What is land registration?

Land registration simply means a system by which all issues that has to do with ownership, possession and transactions made in purchasing a land is recorded with the concerned authority. It provides doubtless evidence that you are the rightful and legal owner of the land whenever the need arises.

Land registration saves you the stress of having to deal with threat, disturbance or dispute in the future. It’s therefore imperative to involve a legal practitioner from the start so you can be guided through the process.

Here are five major steps involved in land registration:

1. Mutual agreement: There must be an agreement between the vendor and the purchaser . This is usually called verbal contract.

2. Now, in respect to what has been agreed upon, a sale document must be prepared for proper record.

3. After the sale document is being prepared, stamp duty, consent fees, capital gains tax and registration fee has to be paid.

4. The deed is then forwarded to designated bodies for endorsement.

5. The final step is the transfer or change of ownership which can be best carried out through an irreversible power of an attorney.

Importance of land registration

1. It serves as proof of ownership

2. Getting your land registered qualifies you to be compensated when your land is acquired by the government. Possibly for public interest. In compliance with Part V of the Land Use Act, LFN 2004.

3. It saves you from fraudulent sales.

4. It protects your land from unauthorized occupier.

Land Registry in Nigeria

Land registry is a sensitive government agency that deals anything that has to do with land matters.

A land registry is established in every state under the land registration law. That is, each state has it own land registry. This implies that there’s always a land registry near to you.

Whatever you want to do about that land, contact our recommended lawyer today. Or call 08133354407

Locations of land registry offices in some states in Nigeria:

i. Federal land registry Ikoyi, Lagos State
ii. Ministry of land housing and survey Ibadan, oyo state
iii. EdoGIS Benin city
Iv. Kano state bureau for land management. Kano
v. Ministry of land and hosing Calabar, Cross river state
vi. Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning. Abere, Osun State. etc

It’s advisable you go to a land registry near to you to verify the uniqueness of the documents of the land you are about to buy. However, doing this can be a little bit stressful but getting a legal assistance will make this process much more easier. Get a trusted lawyer.

Duties of the land registry include the following:

1. Proper storage of all land transaction records.

2. Deeds registration and court judgement.

3. They register the instruments that affects land.

4. Administration of the Electronic Document Management System.

Land Agreement in Nigeria

Land agreement is the formal contract between the person who decides to sell and the one who agrees to buy a land or landed property under specific terms and conditions. Simply put, this is called ”Sale Agreement“.

Land sale Agreement must contain the following:

1. The full details of the assignor and assignee. Such as; addresses, qualifications, occupations , names etc. This is known as “parties clause”.

Note: parties involved in sale agreement may not necessarily be two individuals. They may be more than two people.

2. Adequate explanation on how vendor became the owner of the land he is about sell must be included. This is called the “Recital clause“.

3. The “Consideration clause” must be mentioned in the agreement i.e the payment method agreed on by the vendor and purchaser, either to be paid in installments or at once.

4. The “Covenant clause” i.e the future responsibilities of each parties in regards to the land about to be purchased must be included. Meaning that, the vendor’s obligation to indemnify the buyer against all interruption or disturbance which may arise in the future must be mentioned and also the buyer’s promise to abide by the spelled out terms must be properly written in the sale agreement

5. In a case whereby one party defaults under any terms agreed upon, the contract can be terminated. This is called the “Termination clause“.

Land Transfer

Land transfer in Nigeria is the system in which the legal rights to a land already sold out are transferred from one person to another.

The process of transfer of land ownership is called land mutation which means change of property title. This requires the intervention of a lawyer in order to avoid future disturbance or dispute as touching the ownership of the property.

The primary document of land ownership transfer from one party to the other is called “Deed of Assignment“.

Deed of Assignment in Nigeria

Deeds of Assignment is a legal agreement to transfer a property from the current owner to someone else. I.e. if a land has been sold out to another person, there should be a deed of assignment or conveyance pronouncing the purchaser as the legal owner of the land.

Importance of Deeds of Assignments:

1. It is essential in proving the legitimacy of the land.

2. It binds the legality of transactions made.

3. It declares you as the legal owner of the land in case someone else attempt to claim its ownership in future.

4. It serves as a proof that all due diligence have been completed.

Who prepares the Deed of Assignment?

In Nigeria, a Deed of Assignment should be prepared by a lawyer. And it is usually done within four (4) to six(6) weeks.

What is a deed of assignment made of?

1. The assignor and the assignee’s names and addresses.

2. A statement that all ownership rights to the land are transferred.

3. Description of the land.

4. Signature of the assignor and the assignee(s).

A deed of assignment must be recorded with the state government for its execution according to the provision of the Land Use Act, LFN 2004.

Would you like to make a Deed of Assignment? Contact our recommended lawyer today. Or call 08133354407

Certificate of Occupancy

Certificate of occupancy is a title document issued by a local authority to landowners, which serves as legal proof that a house or building can be occupied according to the law.

The most important document to a landowner in Nigeria is the Certificate of occupancy.

Not getting a C of O as a landowner is very dangerous because it may cause you to lose the land or landed property. It’s important to note that a land without a C of O cannot be legally occupied and it can be seized by the government at any point in time.

Content of a C of O includes:

1. Number of the C of O
2. The file number
3. Details about the location of the property
4. Number of plot
5. Shape of the land
6. Date of transaction
7. Purpose of the land etc.

Benefits of having a C of O:

1. It helps to confirm whether the land is safe to be occupied.
2. The C of O can be accepted as collateral for bank loans.
3. It increases the value of one’s land particularly in Abuja.
4. It declares you as the rightful owner of the land.
5. It protects your land or landed property.

Would you like to get a Certificate of Occupancy? Contact our recommended lawyer today. Or call 08133354407

Land Document Verification

The degree at which you can claim ownership rights to a property is dependent on how certain you are about the authenticity of the property.

All matters concerning change in title or possession of land can be verified and recorded with the government.

How to verify the genuineness of land in Nigeria

1. Confirm the land excision: You must do a proper check to be sure the land has been legally released to the person who claims its ownership by the government gazette. Also, it helps you to be sure that this land is no longer under government acquisition.

2. Get a trusted surveyor: Don’t just rely on what the vendor’s surveyor tells you. Get a trusted surveyor who will make sure the coordinates picked on the survey plan matches the coordinates picked on the land.

3. Confirm the C of O: If the land already has a C of O, It is advisable that you take the C of O number to a land registry to confirm if it’s in their database.

4. Governor’s consent: lands with governor’s consent are always very expensive. You can imagine how tragic it would be to later realize you have been scammed. In order to avoid falling into the hands of fraudulent salers, here are three important people you must involved before buying any land in Nigeria

i. An analyst
ii. A lawyer
iii. A surveyor

However, credibility is key In choosing the lawyer, surveyor or a real estate analyst that will work with you.

You can also check the authenticity of the documents used to process the title.

1. The CTC (Certified True Copy of root title)

2. Instruments of transfer

3. Land photographs with date

4. Letter of authority by applicants.


Purchasing a land in Nigeria is a very delicate process that requires the involvement of experts like a lawyer who will ensure that your interest as the vendor or purchaser of the land is secured and that all transactions made are legitimate.

See also: CAC Registration in Nigeria

Written by –

Faith Adesiyan is a phenomenal writer with over 3 years writing experience. She has written quite a number of poems, articles, and short write-ups. Her areas of specialized expertise include; spoken word, articles, and academic writing.
WhatsApp contact – 08163859839

Faith Adesiyan

Hire Purchase: Rights and Obligations of Owner and Hirer (NG) – Fortune Dikio

Hire Purchase

Hire purchase is one of the many types of consumers credit transaction recognized in Nigeria Law. A Hire purchase agreement is an agreement by an owner of goods (i.e. the creditor) to hire the goods out to a hirer and to give the hirer an option to purchase the goods, conditional on his completing the necessary payment for the goods and complying with the terms of agreement.

In Samuel Arab v Joe Allen & Co.Ltd, Okugbe, Justice of the Court of Appeal, elucidated Hire Purchase as;

Essentially, a Hire Purchase system is a system whereby the owner of the goods, let them on hire for periodic payment, by the hirer, upon Agreement that, when a certain number of payment has been completed, the absolute property in the goods, will pass to the hirer but so however, that the hirer may return the goods at any time without any obligation to pay further balance of rent accounting after return conditions have been fulfilled, the property remains in the owner possession”.

By the Hire Purchase Act, sec. 20(1), the hire Purchase states:

“The Bailment of goods in pursuance of an agreement under which the bailee may buy the goods or under which the property in the goods will pass to the bailee”.

Who then is a bailee?

The Black’sLaw dictionary 9th edition defines a bailee as ;

“a person who receives personal property from another and has possession of the goods, but not title of the property“.

The law governing the hire purchase agreements in Nigeria is the Hire Purchase Act, 1965, as well as the Common Law Rule. The general elements of a contract such as offer, acceptance, Consideration, Capacity to contract and intention to create Legal Relations are also applicable here.

Two parties are involved in a hire purchase agreement, they are;

1. Owner; hire vendor (seller)

2. The Hirer; hire purchaser( buyer)

Although, in some circumstances, there may be an additional party, known as Financier, either a bank or a company , which the seller uses to enforce agreement and payment.

The hire Purchase agreement includes Bailment and sale. The Hirer (hire purchaser) is a bailee until he pays the full price of the goods. The hire Purchase agreement comes to an end when the buyer pays his final installment to owner of the goods (sale), and in return receives property in the goods, not mere possession.

Obligations and Rights of the Parties in a Hire Purchase Agreement

Both parties in a hire purchase agreement have distinct rights and obligations.

Obligations of the Owner

Below are obligations of the owner in a hire purchase agreement.

1. Obligation to Deliver Goods

The owner is obliged to deliver goods to the hirer and such goods must be in good condition. This is a fundamental term in the Hire Purchase agreement and breach of which, the hirer may repudiate the contract or sue for an action of specific performances, or damages.

2. Obligation to Transfer good Title

The owner must possess a good title, as he cannot transfer what he does not have (Nemo dat quod non habet). Therefore, there’s is an implied condition that the owner must possess good title and transfer such to the hirer.

3. An Obligation That Goods must be Delivered according to Description

The owner is obliged to deliver the goods to the hirer, not just delivering the goods, but he must ensure the goods meet the description of the hirer, a breach of which the hirer may reject such goods.

4. Obligation to deliver Goods of quality and Goods that are fit for purpose

In situations where hirer notifies owner of the goods he needs, such goods delivered by the owner must be fit for such particular purpose. Also, the goods must be free from defect which the owner could foresee or notice.

Any defect which is not within this scope, the owner may not be liable. As in the case of Anoka v SCOA Warri, where hirer returned a vehicle due to defect in it’s engine. The court held that the implied term for fitness of purpose would not be applicable here due to the fact that the defect was something the owner could not easily discern.

5. Obligation that hirer must enjoy quiet possession

There’s an implied warranty, that the hirer must enjoy quiet possession of the goods and such goods must be free from encumbrances or charges which may hinder quiet possession of such goods.

6. Obligation to furnish Information

The owner is duty-bound to furnish necessary information regarding the hire Purchase agreement, the technique of using the goods, durability and any necessary or relevant information.

Obligations of the Hirer

Below are obligations of the hirer in a hire purchase arrangement.

1. Obligation to Accept Delivery

The hirer is obliged to accept or take delivery of the goods, refusal or negligence, he(hirer) would be liable for damages.

2. Punctual Payment of Installments

The hirer is obliged to pay installments punctually, as stated in the hire Purchase contract. This is a fundamental duty, as failure to do so amounts to non performance of the contract and goes to the root of the contract. Failure to pay installments punctually and complete such, property in goods would not pass to him( hirer), and he must return the goods back to the owner.

As in the case of Animashawun v CFAO, where the hirer defaulted in payment and the owner repossessed the goods. A similar case is that of Afere v Anad & anor, where the court held the owner was entitled to repossess the goods for failure on the part of the hirer to complete the payment, regardless of how little the fee was(£5).

3. Obligation of Care

The hirer must take custody of the goods, and handle such with care and diligence.

4. Obligation to redeliver the goods

In situation where the hire Purchase agreement fails, the hirer is obliged to redeliver the goods to the owner.

Rights of the Hirer

The hirer is entitled to enjoy the following rights:

1. Delivery of goods by the owner

2. Right to action for damages

He is entitled to bring an action for damages, where owner fails to deliver goods fit for purpose as stated in the Hire Purchase agreement.

3. Right to rejection and repudiation

Where owner fails to deliver goods of merchantable quality, quantity as stated, the hirer may reject the goods or repudiate the contract.

4. Action for a declaration of specific performance

Where installments has been made, and owner refuses to deliver goods, hirer has a right to bring an action for specific performance.

5. Right to enjoy quiet possession, Free from any encumbrances or charges

Rights of the Owner

Below are rights of the owner in a hire purchase agreement.

1. Right to sue for payment of installments, where such has not been paid by hirer.

2. Right of Action for Damages

Where goods has deteriorated in the possession of hirer, the owner may sue for damages. Or where hirer fails to accept goods, any defect, the owner is entitled to damages.

3. Right to action for specific performance

Where hire Purchase agreement fails, he may sue for redelivery of the goods in order to repossess such as in the case of Afere v Anad, stated above.

4. Right to Repudiation

Where hirer fails to perform his obligations.


The Sale of Goods transaction, Agency relationship and Hire Purchase Agreement are legal relationships, in which parties are under obligations to perform to the other party and rights resulting therein. Therefore, it is germane for parties to understand these rights and obligations, as that would help them perform better and make better decisions in their various agreements.

About the author:

Fortune Nkemakola Dikio

Fortune Dikio is an avid writer. A level 300 student of Rivers State University, who’s receptive to knowledge.

Agency: Duties and Rights of Agent and Principal (NG) – Fortune Dikio

Agency Relationship

Sometimes an entity instructs another to conduct its business transactions. This is common and is known as an ‘Agency Relationship‘.

Agency is a business relationship where a principal gives legal authority to an agent to act on the Principal’s behalf when dealing with a third party.

The Black’s Law Dictionary, defines an agency relationship as; ‘a relationship between parties by agreement or otherwise, where one ( the agent) may act on behalf of the other (the principal) and bind the principal by words and actions.

The agency relationship requires two parties. The first is the ‘PRINCIPAL‘, which is the party who gives legal authority to another to act on his or her behalf in a business transaction. The second party is an ‘ AGENT‘, which is the party who is legally authorized to act on behalf of the principal in the Principal’s business transaction.

In Aberdeen Railway corporation co v blaikie bros, the director of a company is deemed to be the agent of the company (the principal). For one to become an agent to a principal, there must be an offer, and a willing or voluntary acceptance. As stated in Pole v Leask, where Lord Cranworth averred, that “no one can become the agent of another except by the will of that another”.

An Agency relationship, is known as “Fiduciary Relationship“, because the agent owes a ‘Fiduciary Duty‘, to the principal. This means the agent is obliged to act in the best interest of the principal. As in West Const Ltd v Batalche, where it was held, that a relevant condition for agency therefore is that the agent must be seen to be acting on behalf of the principal, not for himself. The principal also owes certain obligations to the agent too. The act of the agent for a particular purpose is the act of the principal, under the legal principle of qui per alium facit per seipsam facere videtur‘ , which states that he who does a thing through another does it himself.

Obligations of an Agent to the Principal

This is subdivided into two;

1. Obligations arising from the agreement;

2. Obligations arising from the fiduciary relationship.

Obligations Arising From Agreements

Obligations arising from this group are deciphered from any express or implied agreement between the parties, they include;

1. Duty to perform

The duties of an agent depends primarily on the contract of agency, if there is one. subject to such express terms the agent owes a number of implied duties or obligations to his principal. The primary duty of the agents is to perform the contract in line with the terms or instructions of the principal as failure to do so amount to a breach of contract and the agent is held liable.

As in the case of Turpin v Bilton; where an insurance broker( agent) agreed for consideration to obtain a contract of insurance on the plaintiff’s ship ( the principal). But, he failed to do so, the ship was lost and the broker was held liable to the plaintiff (principal).

Also, in Fraser vs B. N furman Production Ltd, where insurance brokers agreed for consideration to effect an employer’s liability but failed to do so, the principal was held liable for damages in action brought against him by a third party. The court of appeal held that the brokers (agents) must indemnify the employer in that sum for breach of contract. Not withstanding, an agent is not obliged to perform the terms of his agency if these are illegal or against public policy.

As in the case of Cohen v Kittel, where it was held that an agent cannot be sued for not performing an illegal act. Also in Nigerian Craft Bags Ltd v Express Clearing and Shipping, it was held that a professional agent for example a legal practitioner, would not be expected to contravene his rules of professional conduct, notwithstanding the instruction of Principal. In Thomas Cheschire and Co v vaugham Bros & Co, where the subject matter for shipments of nitrates during the war was held to be illegal and against public policy.

2. Duty of Care and Skill

An agent must exhibit a reasonable skill, Care and Diligence in carrying out his duties. In Coggs v Bernard, a gratuitous agent was held to be in breach of the contract for not exercising due care. As in Omotayo v A.Y Ojikutu, the court held that:

a principal who appoints an agent knowing his skill and experience is not entitled to expect or require from that agent a lighter measure of skill or knowledge than one of his position and experience could reasonably be expected to possess.

An agent does not guarantee the successful outcome of the transaction undertaken by him on behalf of his principal, provided he acts honestly. But it can be demanded of him that he should show the measure of skill and diligence which could be expected of one in his position and experience. In keppel v Wheeler, a property agent did not understand the legal effect of the phrase, ‘ subject to contact’, and therefore failed to communicate a better offer to the principal, he was held liable to pay damages, as it was reasonably expected of him to understand such.

3. Non-delegation of Assignments

The agency relationship requires the agent to carry out his duties personally. That is a personal performance and not delegating such duties to another. The principle of ‘delegatus non potest delegare’, the rule that a person to whom power, trust, or authority is given to act on behalf, or for the benefit of another cannot delegate this obligation, unless expressly authorized to do so is applicable here, although in cases where it may be necessary to delegate, the consent of the principal must be sought. In John Mc Cann & co v Pow, a property agent was not entitled to commission, as the property was sold by a sub-agent, without the Principal’s consent.

Obligations Arising Out of Fiduciary Relationship

Agency relationships are fiduciary relationships. This means the relationship involves a high level of trust and confidence between the principal and the agent because the principal has trusted the agent to supervise or protect the principal’s properties, the agent owes a fiduciary duty to the principal and therefore the agent is obliged to act in the best interest of the principal. The Obligations owed are;

4. Duty of Obedience and Loyalty

Agents must act in allegiance solely to the principal. That is with the Principal’s best interest in mind and must act cautiously and prudently carrying out the principal’s instructions and not his own. As in Betram, Armstrong & co v Godfrey, a stock broker agent failed to act in the interest of the principal by following Principal’s instructions, he failed to sell the stock at a specified level which the principal directed him to. The agent was liable to pay damages to his principal for the loss of profits suffered.

5. Duty to Act in Good Faith

Duty of good faith entails:

  • Ensuring that personal conflict of the agent does not prejudice the contract or interest of the principal.
  • He must not make any secret profits or do anything that will be detrimental to the interest of the principal from his position as an agent.
  • Agents must be accountable to the principal as the principal is entitled to an account as in the case of Akibola v Neburagho, where the court held that the Principal ( a proprietoress) was entitled to an account, for management of the school she left in the hands of the agent ( a lieutenant).
  • He must not misuse or divulge any information.

In liley vs doubleday, the defendant and agent of the principal failed to act in good faith by putting the principal’s interest first and not conflicting his interests. Here, he was instructed to store goods at a warehouse where the principal had already insured. The defendant (the agent), however stored a part of the goods elsewhere and the goods caught fire. The principal unfortunately lost the benefits of the insurance because of change of place of storage. The court held liable for a breach of contract.

Rights of the Agent in Agency

1. Right of lien

The agent has and can exercise the right of lien over the principal’s goods in his possession pending the settlements of his claims with his principal. This right is only exercisable where he is entitled to receive commission or remuneration for Duty or obligation performed.

2. Right to Remuneration

A gratituous agent is not entitled to remuneration where none is provided expressly or impliedly from the agreement contract. If the work requires full performance, where performance is in part, the agent has no remuneration.

As in Mc Cullum v Hicks, it was held that the plaintiff’s claim must fail because he failed to find a purchaser to go through with a complete transaction. For an agent to be remunerated the money must have come as a result of the agents act, because it is from the profit he is to be paid.

In Bryant v Flight, the agent agreed to work for the principal and left the amount that he was to receive to the principal. The agent worked for only six months, it was held that it must be implied into the agreement that the agent has to get something for his work, he was to recover on a quantum merit.

2. Right to Action for Damages

Unless the parties agree otherwise, the agent may sue the principal to enforce his right to reimbursement of indemnity for losses, expenses or damages sustained in discharging the terms of his agency.

Generally, a principal must idemnify an agent for liability incurred in the performance of his duties, this generally arises where the instructions of the principal subjects the agents to liability to a third party, but if an agent acts outside the scope of his authority the principal may be relieved from the duty to indemnify.

3. Right to stoppage in Transitu

Where the agents stands towards his principal in the position of an unpaid seller, he may exercise the right of stoppage in transitu against the goods of his principal. He stands in such a position where having both goods for his principal, he pays the seller with his own money or otherwise incurs a personal liability to the seller for the price.

Other Remedies

Includes an Interpleader Summons to enforce or initiate a suit between the principal and the third-party. He may ask the court to decide who has the rights to the goods and enforce the judgement of the court. An interpleader summons refers to a way for a holder of property to initiate a suit between two or more claimants to the property.

Obligations of the principal

A principal can be a person, a cooperation, partnership, non-profit organisation, or even a government agency. In any case, once the principal engages an agent, the principal has necessary Obligations to perform to that agent. If a principal fails to fulfill his duties, it can result in a lawsuit based on breach of contract or tort liability. However a principal owes the agent the following Obligations;

1. Obligation to Remunerate

It is the duty of the principal to remunerate the agent for the services rendered he is required to pay the agents they are great commission or remuneration as agreed by them in the absence of an Express agreement as to the amount of commission or remuneration to be paid the court will normally hold that the agents shall be entitled to reasonable commission or remuneration.

As in Bryant v Flight where the agency agreed to work for the principal and left the amount that he was to receive to the principal. The agent worked for only six months, it was held that it must be implied into the agreement that the agent was to get something for his work, he was to recover on a quantum meruit claim.

2. Obligation to reimburse and Indemnify

The principal also owes an agent the duty to indemnify or reimburse him for every expense of a contractual or tortuous liability incurred in the course of performing his lawful duties or obligations. That is, duties and obligations within his express or implied duty, not outside the scope of his authority, as a principal will not be liable for such as in West Const Ltd v Batalche.

In Adamson v Jarvis, the principal instructed an auctioneer to sell goods which he did not have title to, an action against the agent for conversion succeeded. The court held that the agent’s action against the principal for indemnity was proper.

Rights of the Principal

1. Right to Dismissal

The principal has the right to dismiss the agent in cases of gross misconduct, such as not rendering a proper account, acting outside the scope of his authority, not remitting secret commission , etc. as in Boston Deep Sea Fishing & Lie Co v Ansell, where agent was dismissed without commission for financial dishonesty.

2. Right to Recession and Damages

The principal may rescind any contract made on his behalf by the agent either without authority or in breach of his duties. The agent may be accountable to him for all damages resulting from the breach and maybe required to dislodge any secret commission, profit or advantage obtained. In Osman v Ralph Moss Ltd, the principal sued the agent, an insurance broker for damages for failing to keep him informed. It is pertinent to note that the agent owes the principal a duty to right information at when relevant.

3. Right to Demand for Account

He may take an action to compel the agent to render an account of all his dealings in respect to his agency or for any money had and received on his behalf, as it is a duty of the agent to act in good faith, putting principal’s interest first, as in the case of Akibola v Neburagho.

4. Right to Action for conversion

He may sue the agent for conversion where the agent has received property on his behalf and has misappropriated or misused it. As in the case of Boston Deep Sea & Lie Co v Ansell, where the agent was dismissed for dishonesty as he collected secret commission from third parties against his Principals knowledge.

5. Right to private prosecution

He may take out private summons against the agent where the agent’s conduct, act or commission is criminal.

About the Author:

Fortune Nkemakola Dikio

Fortune Dikio is an avid writer. A level 300 student of Rivers State University, who’s receptive to knowledge.

An Introduction to Copyright Protection in Nigeria – Inioluwa Olaposi

Copyright in Nigeria

In the world of Intellectual Properties, copyrights are at the forefront of popular cognition, laying in rank with other widely known IPs like trademarks, patent, and trade secrets.

In simple parlance, an Intellectual Property (shortly called IP) is an intangible property; creation of the mind.

Intellectual Property rights are therefore legal provisions that seek to protect the sanctity of these properties by forestalling and restraining unauthorized exercises. Such unauthorized engagements, if and when they occur, are known as infringements. One of these intellectual proprietary rights is called Copyright.

As earlier adduced, copyright is a vast Intellectual Property right and can thus overlap with other rights in certain spheres. For instance, a logo may be protectable by Copyright and Trademark law, or a computer programme with Copyright or Patent.

In Nigeria, copyright is statutorily regulated by the provisions of the Nigerian Copyright Act of 1988 (hereinafter referred to as CA or ‘the act’).1 For the administration of copyright in the country, the act provides for the establishment of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (hereinafter referred to as NCC or ‘the commission’).2

According to the CA, a work is eligible for copyright protection if it is a literal, musical, or an artistic work, cinematography film, sound recording or broadcast. Literal, musical, and artistic works must be in a fixed medium of expression and possess originality. A work shall not be eligible if it was made as a model or pattern to be multiplied by an industrial process.3 Copyright protection also extends to other related rights like performer’s right and expressions of folklore.

Ownership of Copyright

The copyright of a work is vested in the author. And in the case of joint authorship, where the contribution of one author is inseparable from that of another, both or all authors involved shall be co-owners of the copyright.4

In case of a work by an employee made as commissioned in the course of their employment, like a writer for a newspaper, the copyright shall belong to the proprietor, unless otherwise provided by an agreement. If not so commissioned, or commissioned by someone who is not the author’s employer, the copyright shall belong to the author.5

Acquisition of Copyright

With consideration of its status of eligibility, copyright shall be conferred on a work whose author is a citizen of or domiciled in Nigeria, or a body corporate incorporated under the laws of Nigeria.

Alternatively, the author may be a citizen or be domiciled in a country, or a body corporate incorporated in such country, that is a party to an obligation in a treaty or other international agreement to which Nigeria is a party. Additionally, the work as a literal, musical or artistic creation must be first published in any of these countries.6

Registration of Copyright

Registration of copyright is not required by the CA. In other words, eligible works are automatically copyrighted without any form of official registration. However, the NCC has a database for owners of copyrights to register them with the commission.7 This would suffice as a good tool for proving ownership.

Duration of Copyright Protection

The duration of the subsistence of copyright protection in a work depends on the type of the work. For literary, musical and artistic works, copyright subsist from when the work is made still seventy (70) years after the end of the year in which the author dies. In case of works with joint authorship, the death of the author refers to the death of the author who dies last.

As for cinematography films, photographs, and sound recordings, copyright shall subsist from when the work was made still fifty (50) years after the end of the year in which it was first published. And lastly, copyright shall subsist in a broadcast still after fifty (50) years after the end of the year in which the broadcast first took place.8

Transmission of Copyright

The owner of a copyright may assign his rights or license some acts to be done to the work. In assignment, copyright is transmissible by testamentary disposition or operation of law, as a movable property.9

Any assignment of copyright or exclusive license to do an act must be in writing for it to be valid. A non-exclusive license may, however, be oral or inferred from the conduct of the parties.

Copyrights of a work to be made in the future, or future rights which would emanate from an existing work, are transmissible by operation of law as movable property.10

Ancillary rights

Ancillary rights relating to Copyright in the Nigerian situation are Moral rights, Performer’s right and the Protection afforded to expressions of folklore. Moral rights protect the author from derogatory actions, including mutilation of his work, that may be disparaging to his reputation or honour. Performer’s right protect works from being publicly performed, and expressions of folklore are also protected from being reproduced outside their traditional structures.11

Collecting Bodies

A collecting body represents a substantial number of owners of copyrights in a category of work. It is formed to manage the rights of its members, issue licenses and collect royalties. A notable example of a collecting body is the defunct Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).12

COSON was licensed to manage the copyright of artists in musical works and sound recordings. It has now been replaced with the Music Copyright Society of Nigeria (“MCSN”). When a collecting body is effective in the management of the rights licensed to it, the commission shall not approve another society in respect to those rights.13

Infringement of Copyright

Among other causes, an infringement of copyright occurs when there is an unauthorized exercise of a copyrighted work. Whether by way of reproduction, distribution, mutilation, or public performance, any unauthorized dealing with a copyrighted material, against such copyright, amounts to infringements.14 A person who commits such infringement may be called an infringer.

A secondary infringer is one who aids or abets or actively participates in an infringement.

Action on Infringement of Copyright

An action on infringement may be brought by the owner of the copyright, an assignee or an exclusive licensee to the Federal High Court exercising jurisdiction where the infringement occurred. Such reliefs by way of injunction or damages shall be available to the plaintiff.15

Also, an action relating to infringement of copyright may be civil or criminal. A civil action may arise between two parties. On the other hand, the NCC may institute a criminal action against the infringer. Notably, a civil and criminal action may run simultaneously on the same fact of infringement, and the criminal action may subsist even if the parties had settled the civil claim.16

Defense to Infringement

A claim of infringement may be defended on the ground of lack of knowledge. This is when the defendant had no reasonable reason to believe that the infringing work is an infringing copy of the original work.17

Also, acts of fair dealing for the purposes of research, private use, criticism or review may not amount to infringement of copyright. Moreover, ‘incidental occurrence’ is a valid defense also.

Judicial reliefs in actions of Infringement

The court, in a case of copyright infringement, might grant injunctions or damages. As ex parte, a court may order an interim injunction to prevent an act of infringement until the case is determined. A permanent injunction may be granted at the end of the case in favour of a party.

Also, the court may give an Anton Piller order to restrain a party from destroying evidences of infringement. In Oladipo Yemitan v. The Daily Times (Nig.) Limited,18 the plaintiff claimed his work was reproduced verbatim by the unauthorized defendant. The court awarded damages of #10,000 and #15,000 as exemplary damages against the defendant.


1Cap. C28 LFN 2004.

2Section 34, Copyright Act 1988

3Section 1, Copyright Act 1988

4Section 2 (1), (4), 51 – “work of joint authorship”

5Section 10, Copyright Act 1988

6Section 2, 5, Copyright Act 1988

7 – confirmed on 19th May, 2022

8First Schedule (Terms of Copyright) Copyright Act 1988

9Section 11 (1), Copyright Act 1988

10Section 11 (7), Copyright Act 1988

11The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Copyright 2017 (3rd edition) Nigeria. S. P. A. Ajibade & Co.

John C. Onyido, Yetunde Okojie.

12Nigeria: Federal High Court rules that COSON’s operating licence has lapsed  – Music in Africa(, retrieved on 19/5/2022)

13Section 39 (3), Copyright Act 1988

14See section 15, Copyright Act 1988

15Section 16 (1), Copyright Act 1988

16See Nigerian Copyright Commission vs. MTN Nigeria Communications Limited. Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CR/379/15

17Section 20, Copyright Act 1988

18[1977-1989] 2 IPLR 141

Fintech and Data Privacy Invasion: Legal Implications – Tariere Itoko

Fintech and Data Privacy Invasion: Legal Implications (– Sokoloan as a Case Study)

The borrower is servant to the lender


Today, a lot of people tend to borrow money to make ends meet and for unexpected expenses and this is most times as a result of non-payment of salaries, unemployment, high living standards, etc.

Although, traditional banking makes acquiring a loan hard with its paper work, checking the credit-worthiness of potential borrowers, requirement of a guarantor and collateral, the Fintech space has taken a new dive from this traditional method for obtaining a loan to make the process less stressful and more attractive by the removal of collateral for borrowers and the convenience of obtaining loans with just a few clicks on your mobile phone amongst others.

Unfortunately, this new development may have seemed rosy in its early stage, but has now become people’s worst mistake owing to its grave disadvantages such as infringement of data privacy.

This paper seeks to succinctly give a brief overview of Fintech, data privacy and its importance and take a look at the credit tech which involves loan sharks who have used their power over borrowers to bring nothing but shame upon them with their own data, specific reference to the Soko Loan app.



Technology is growing and cutting across various sectors in the country such as education, the legal profession and most especially the financial space. Technology is playing a pivotal role in the finance space, helping with financial intelligence, financial inclusion, savings, investments etc.

This development is what is popularly known as “Fintech”, it is the combination of advanced technology and finance to better the lives of the citizenry by making financial transactions more convenient than the traditional way.

Financial technology (Fintech) is used to describe new technology that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. At its core, fintech is utilized to help companies, business owners and consumers better manage their financial operations, processes, and lives by utilizing specialized software and algorithms that are used on computers and, increasingly, smart phones. Fintech, the word, is a combination of “financial and technology”.(( accessed on 26th of March, 2022))

There are various Fintech sectors such as Credit tech for loans, Insure tech, payment tech for remittance and also wealth tech for automated savings and investment, but for the sake of this article our focus will be on credit tech.

Credit tech is a technology company that provides loan facilities in a faster and more customized way to suit the current low income amidst Nigerians. Some of these companies include; renmoney, pagefinancials, branch, soko loan, fair money and a host of others.

Data Privacy

Data Privacy is the protection of personal data from those who should not have access to it and the ability of individuals to determine who can access their personal information. It generally means the ability of a person to determine for themselves when, how and to what extent personal information about them is shared with or communicated to others.(( accessed on the 26th of March, 2022.))

This personal data includes name, address, email address, bank details. With the rise of internet activities, the importance of data privacy has increased as most websites and apps, especially fintech apps which require very private information like BVN, phone number, email address etc.

The government envisaging the importance of data privacy in the internet space made provision for this right as seen in Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states, “The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.”

Asides the aforementioned provision of the Constitution there is no specific statute or law on data privacy, however, the NITDA((National Information Technology Development Agency)) which is a federal agency established by the NITDA Act responsible for the development, regulation and advice on information technology in the country brought to life the NDPR [Nigeria Data Protection Regulations] 2019 to promote data privacy and curb data privacy breach in the country by sanctioning defaulters.

Soko Loan – Case Study

Soko Lending Limited [Soko loan app] is an online credit tech company that provides short-term loans in Nigeria to help cover unexpected expenses and urgent cash needs without collateral.((

It offers a seamless process by just downloading the application on one’s device and activating a direct debit in the company’s favor and gains access to the borrower’s contacts.

The fact that this loan company and most, if not all fintech lending companies do not ask for collateral before approving a loan application is what attracts Nigerians to it and takes them away from traditional bank loans. These loan apps take higher, ridiculous interest than our banks for an even shorter period, imagine asking for a 50% interest in 7 days, they clearly already set them up not to pay back.

There’s nothing for these online lenders to hold on to offset debt in cases of non-payment by defaulters since there is no collateral thus they resort to the unhealthy and illegal means of using customers private information against them by sending defamatory messages to everyone on their contact lists.

For better visualiation, this is a message sent by them to one of their borrowers contacts “This is to inform the general public that Mr. Ade with 080xxxisachronic debtor and a fraudster. He is on the run after duping a lending money company. You are advised to stay clear from him”.

Following several launched complaints at the agency, in November 2021 the NITDA fined Soko loan to the tune of Ten million naira [N10,000,000] for breach of data privacy due to their unhealthy and illegal means of debt recovery.

The agency found them in violation of various sections in the NDPR of which includes Section 2.5 of the NDPR which makes it compulsory for every business to have and display a valid privacy policy if such business collects data to the targeted data subjects in an easy to understand manner.

Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy is a document that explains the type of personal information that your business collects through your website, mobile app or other means, it also informs your customers and users of their data privacy rights and the steps you take to protect their personal information, amongst other things.

Also, they were found In breach of Section 2.2 of same rule which makes provision for lawful processing of data i.e. when processing of data is deemed lawful for example the data subject consented, the processing is required for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject inter alia.((

It is my humble opinion that any of the so called loan sharks cannot find shelter under the umbrella of initial notice that they would send messages to third parties as Section 24.4 states no consent shall be sought, given or accepted in any circumstance that may engender direct or indirect propagation of atrocities, hate, violation, criminal acts and anti-social conducts, meaning they ought not to even seek such consent in the first instance and if the data subject offered they are mandated to refuse such offer as defamation is both a civil and criminal act.

It is unfortunate that even after the fine imposed, in January of 2022 another victim of this unethical strategy although in another form took to social media to display an obituary poster made of him by SOKO LOAN due to non-payment of loan obtained.(( his-obituary-after-he-defaulted-on-payment-2.html accessed on March 31st, 2022.)) This company sends these messages to everyone on the contact list not caring the implications of their actions.

A lot of persons have cried out that they lost a friend, sister, husband due to these messages, it may mean nothing to them but is definitely harmful to the debtor. Being a debtor is not something anyone is proud about talk more of an alleged criminal which they paint some of them to be. It causes a lot of mental issues due to shock and what not.

Fortunately, the battle did not end there, on the 11th of March 2022, the Federal Competition and Consumer protection commission [FCCPC] and other regulators including the CBN, NITDA etc. took off to shut down locations of some of these notorious illegal lending companies in Lagos state.

It was discovered that they were not even registered with the Corporate Affairs commission neither did they obtain the requisite licenses to carry out the business of lending in Nigeria.

The reason for the raiding was due to the issue of breach of data privacy as a means to recover due loans and also the high interest rates. The loan companies shut down by the federal agencies included a familiar face Soko loan, alongside kash kash, easy credit etc. The FCCPC mentioned that efforts are being made to freeze the accounts used by the managers of the online money lenders, also it was just the beginning in due time they would fish out all other illegal money lenders.(( on April))

Recommendation / Conclusion

The best way to tackle the issue of non-payment is a preliminary move of making a loan grant subject to collateral considering the fact that Nigerians have bad credit score. If that is not welcomed, then they take the prescribed means of debt recovery by the relevant extant law, in other words hire a lawyer versed in debt recovery to do the work, as simple as that.

Written by Tariere Itoko

Tariere Itoko is an enthusiastic 300 level law student at Edo State University, Uzairue with great  interest in Fintech law, Intellectual property law and Banking and Finance.

Industrial Designs (Ownership, Registration etc.) – Inioluwa Olaposi

Industrial Designs in Nigeria

Want to know about industrial design rights in Nigeria? Sit tight!

A lot goes into the production of goods and services. A lot in steps and processes. One major step in the production of an industrial product is the making of a design.

In simple parlance, a design is a sketch, drawing, etc., of what the product will look like before it is made. In other words, a design projects the frame, and display dimensions of a product.

In industries, from automobile to fashion, designs are of crucial importance. They usually carry heavy economic and reputative value. Fortunately, these are some of the key areas offered protection by intellectual properties like copyright, trademarks and patent.

Technically, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an industrial design constitutes the ornamental aspect of an article. It may consist of three dimensional features, such as the shape of an article, or two dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or color.

In Nigeria, industrial designs are protected by the Patents and Designs Act 1970 (Cap P2 LFN 2004). Specifically, sections 12-22 of the Act contain provisions special to the protection of designs.

What can be an Industrial Design

Any combination of lines or colours or both, and any three-dimensional form, whether or not associated with colours, is an industrial design, if it is intended by the creator to be used as a model or pattern to be multiplied by industrial process and is not intended solely to obtain a technical result. – Section 12.

For a design to be registrable, it must be new. That it to say, it must not have been made available to the public before application for registration. However, a design is not public if it was only officially exhibited six month before its application for registration.

Additionally, a design that was communicated confidentially, or to someone who has an interest in it, will not be deemed as published.

In the case of Blank v. Footman, Pretty & Co. (1988) 5 R.P.C. 653, pages 460, 461, Blank, the proprietor of a design, showed it to Hummel before registering it. Hummel was a commission agent who had the sole right of selling Blank’s goods in England. It was held that Hummel, therefore, had an interest in the Design and thus the communication made to him must be regarded as confidential. And being confidential, it does not amount to publication.

The decision above was given judicial credence in the Supreme Court case of F.O. Ajibowo & Co. Ltd. v. Western Textiles Anor (1917-1976) 1, I.P.L.R. In this case, the disclosure of the design was made to the Plaintiffs/Respondents who had an interest in the manufacture of the design for the Defendants/Appellants. The Court, citing Blank’s case, held that there was no publication made.

Also, a design that is contrary to public order or morality cannot be registered.

In Ethylene Products & Lubricants Ltd. V. Delta Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (2003-2007) 5, I.P.L.R page 318, Abdullahi Mustapha, J. held thus, “Section 13 (1) & of (2) Patents and Designs Act reads: … it would be seen from the above provisions that an Industrial Design can only be registered if it is new and it is not contrary to public order and morality.”

Ownership of Design Rights

The right to registration of an industrial design is vested in the Statutory Creator, whether he is the true creator or not. A statutory creator is the first person to file an application for the registration, or claim foreign priority on the design.

When a statutory creator is not the true creator, the latter shall be entitled to be named as the true creator in the registration. This is a right that cannot be modified by contract. Moreover, if a supposed statutory creator files an application without the consent of the true creator, the rights in such registration shall be deemed to be transferred to the true creator.

Additionally, when an industrial design is created by an employee within the course of his employment, the rights in such creation shall be vested in the employer. This is also the case if the design was made in the course of a commissioned work.

However, an employee who makes a design not in the course of his employment but using the means of his employment, shall be entitled to fair remuneration. Or else, he can bring an action for enforcement.

Registration of Industrial Designs in Nigeria

Every application for registration of an industrial design shall be made to the Registrar. The registrar is in charge of the Trademarks, Patent and Design Registry. The registry is under the Commercial Law Department of the Ministry for Industry, Trade and Investment.

By powers conferred by the Act, the registrar shall examine every application to make sure it is in compliance with sections 13 (1) (b) and 15 of the Act. That is to say, the registrar shall check for whether the design is not contrary to public order or morality. And whether the necessary information like applicant’s full name and address, a specimen of the design, etc., are provided, as well as prescribed fee paid.

If the application does not comply with necessary requirements, the registrar shall reject the application. Any person grieved by the decision of the registrar may appeal to the Court.

Foreign Priority in Design Registration

Nigeria is a party to conventions and treaties relating to intellectual properties. For example, Nigeria is a signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), in line with the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883).

According to Section 27 of the Patents and Designs Act, the Minister may declare a country or countries as a convention country (ies) by an order in the Federal Gazette. When this is done, an application filed by a person in Nigeria who has earlier made the same application in a convention country shall be entitled to foreign priority.

In other words, the application filed in Nigeria shall be deemed to be filed as at the time the application was made in the other country. However, for such an application to enjoy foreign priority, it must be made within six months of making the foreign application.

Consequentially, the application with foreign antecedent shall be granted, over a new local application with no prior filing.

Deposit System in Design Registration

The registrar is mandated by the Patent and Design Act to verify if the application for Design rights has compiled with the requirements of the Act, not to check if the design is registrable. See section 16 (2) of the Act.

In other words, Nigeria operates a Deposit System of registration, as opposed to the Examination System obtainable in industrialised countries.

This means that even though an application for design rights is granted by the registrar, it is granted as applied for. It does not mean the design in question is new. Determining whether or not a design is new is left to the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction.

That is to say, the Court shall determine whether the application complies with the requirement of newness under Section 13 (1) (a) of the Act. If the Court decides that the design does not pass the test of newness, the granted rights shall be declared null and void.

Therefore, in Nigeria, the burden of proof is upon whoever is contesting a design to prove that such an a design is not new.

Lifespan of Design Rights in Nigeria

Industrial design rights in Nigeria are effective for five years from the date the application was made. With payment of the prescribed fee, it can be renewed for two consecutive periods of five years each. The prescribed fee shall be paid within six months into the renewal period.

Infringement on Industrial Design Rights

Registering an industrial design confers rights on the creator. It precludes any other person from reproducing, importing, selling or utilising the design in manufacturing or for commercial purposes.

Thus, any person that deals with a design in an unauthorised manner is infringing on the rights of the creator. Such a person is an infringer, and can be subject to liabilities by the order of a court.

The Court of competent jurisdiction in matters relating to infringement of Industrial design rights is the Federal High Court. The decision of the Court can be appealed to the Court of Appeal, and then to the Supreme Court.

The Court may grant remedies against the defendant in injunctions and damages.

Patent in Nigeria (Requirements, Ownership etc.) – Inioluwa Olaposi

Patent in Nigeria

A patent is an intellectual property that grants exclusive rights with regard to an invention.

All over the world, it is common knowledge that security is at the heart of human desires. A major benefit of intellectual property rights is the guarantee of economic security for human creativity. I would say, ‘Creativity is the soul of innovation, and innovation is the soul of entrepreneurship.’

Patent, like other IPs, protects the patented product or process from possible unauthorised reproduction, use, sale etc. Thus, granting exclusive rights to deal with the invention for a fixed period of time to the patentee.

In Nigeria, the statute regulating Patents is cited as the Patent and Design Act (hereinafter referred to as PDA). This Act contains provisions regarding the administration of patents, as well as designs. From clarifications on patentable inventions, to examination of applications and licenses of rights, the Act provides for the registration and proprietorship of patents.

Patent is granted by application to the Patent and Design Registry; examined by the Registrar under the authority of the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment.

Patentability of Inventions in Nigeria

Patents can be obtained for both products and processes. The key determinant of eligibility for patent is newness of invention and industrial applicability.

According to Section 1 (1) of the PDA, an invention is patentable if it is a new invention or an improvement upon an already patented invention. In both cases, the invention must be a result of an inventive activity and must be industrially applicable.

An invention which has been made public or a product of common knowledge in a field is not new and therefore not patentable. Similarly, an invention that cannot be manufactured or used in any kind of industry, including Agriculture, is not patentable.

Moreover, a patent cannot be validly obtained in respect of plant or animal varieties, or essentially biological processes for the production of plants and animals (other than microbiological processes and their products). Inventions that are contrary to morality or public order are also not patentable.

Patent and Foreign Priority

Nigeria is a party to conventions and treaties relating to intellectual properties. For example, Nigeria is a signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), in line with the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883).

According to Section 27 of the PDA, the Minister may declare a country or countries as a convention country (ies) by an order in the Federal Gazette. When this is done, an application filed by a person in Nigeria who has earlier made the same application in a convention country shall be entitled to foreign priority.

In other words, the application filed in Nigeria shall be deemed to be filed as at the time the application was made in the other country. However, for such an application to enjoy foreign priority, it must be made within twelve months of making the foreign application.

Consequentially, the application with foreign antecedent shall be granted, over a new local application with no prior filing.

Patent ownership in Nigeria

In patenting an invention, the true inventor differs from the statutory inventor. The former is the one who invented the product or process. While the latter is the person to first filed for patent.

The right to a patent in respect of an invention is vested in the Statutory Inventor, whether or not he is the true inventor. However, the true inventor is entitled to be named in the patent. Moreover, if a statutory inventor obtains his position without the consent of the true one, the rights in such an application shall be transferred to the true inventor.

In case of an invention made by an employee in the course of his employment, the patent right shall be vested in the employer. This is the same for an invention made in the course of executing a contract for the performance of specified work.

In the case of an invention made by contributions from more than one person, they are all inventors. However, a person who has merely assisted in doing the inventive work without contributing any inventive activity is not an inventor.

Registration of Patent in Nigeria

Like trademarks, registering an invention for patent in Nigeria is pretty straightforward. For ease of process, engaging your legal practitioner or agent is well advised. Section 3 (1) of the PDA specifies the information to be provided in a Patent application.

Notably, Section 3 (3) provides that an application can only be made for one invention. Although may include claims for many products or processes in connection with such invention.

The registrar is saddled with the responsibility of examining every patent application. He may also reject an application that has failed to comply with prescribed procedure.

Deposit System of Patenting

The registrar is mandated by the PDA to verify if the application for patent has compiled with the requirement of the Act, not to check for its patentability. See section 4 (2) of the PDA.

In other words, Nigeria operates a Deposit System of Patenting, as opposed to the Examination system obtainable in some other countries.

This means that even though an application for patent is granted by the registrar, it is granted as applied for. It does not mean the invention in question is patentable. Deciding whether or not an invention is patentable is left to the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction.

That is to say the Court shall determine whether the invention complies with the provisions for patentability under Section 1 and 3 (2) of the PDA. If the Court decides that the invention does not pass the test of patentability, the granted patent shall be declared null and void.

Therefore, in Nigeria, the burden of proof is upon whoever is contesting a patent to prove that such an invention is not patentable.

Lifespan of Patent in Nigeria

Section 7 of the PDA provides that a patent shall expire 20 years after its application was filed. A patent can also lapse if its annual fees are not paid for six months after the due time.

Infringement on Patent

Patent protects an invention from acts that violate the rights of the inventor, whether in importation, sale or use. Any unauthorized act done with the invention for industrial and commercial purposes shall constitute an infringement of the patent.

In Beijing Cotec Tech. Corporation & Anor v. Greenlife Pharm. Ltd & 5 Ors (2003-2007) 5, I.P.L.R page 100, the Court held thus, “It is submitted on behalf of the Plaintiffs that by virtue of a Patent No. 13566 as contained in the Certificate of Registration Exhibit DIHYDRO 1B, the plaintiffs have shown a legal right worthy to be protected from invasion or infringement by others.

“It is settled that what the Plaintiffs need to show is not only the legal right but that the legal right is threatened. Refer to Akibu v. Oduntan (1991) NWLR (Part 171) 1 at 10.”

The Court that has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine matters of infringement of patents is the Federal High Court. The Court may grant remedies against the defendant in injunctions, damages, or an order for account of profits.


  • AN OVERVIEW OF THE LAW OF PATENTS IN NIGERIA (published by Nigerian Law Guru)
  • Patent Law and Requirements for Patent Registration in Nigeria (by Resolution Law Firm. Published by

Trademarks in Nigeria (Protection, Registration etc.) – Inioluwa Olaposi

Trademarks in Nigeria

Want to learn about trademarks in Nigeria? Hang on!

Ever heard of Intellectual property (IP)? Trademarks are a principal part of intellectual properties. Like other IPs, trademarks are intangible properties; creations of the mind.

A trademark is a word, sign, symbol, logo, device, slogan etc. capable of distinguishing the goods or services of an enterprise from the other. They protect against confusion in the identification of products.

Trademarks are protected by Intellectual Property Rights. These rights, generally speaking, are framed to preserve the sanctity of creativity. Therefore, trademark rights help to legally ensure that your word or device is not reproduced by an infringer.

In Nigeria, trademark is chiefly regulated by the Trade Marks Act. This statute specifies the operation of trademarks in Nigeria, from registration to rectification, to transmission etc. Other laws that regulate trademarks in the Nigerian milieu include the Merchandise Marks Act (Cap M10 LFN 2004), as well as the Nigerian Trade Mark Regulations 1967.

In the case of Fedoro Limited & Anor v. Ibeto Industries Limited (2003-2007) 5, I.P.L.R page 158, 159, Musdapher, J.S.C. held thus, “The essence of a Trade Mark if that it indicates a connection in the course of trade between the goods and some person having the right to use the same. A Mark, in this connection includes a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral or any combination thereof;

“A Trade Mark on the other hand, is a Mark used or proposed to be used in relation to goods for the purpose of indicating or so as to indicate, a connection in the course of trade between the goods and some persons having the right either as a proprietor or a registered user to use the Mark.”

What can constitute a Trademark?

The Trade Marks Act has specific provisions relating to what can constitute a trade mark.

Thus, not every phrase, word, logo or slogan can simply become a trademark. The central attribute of every trademark is distinctiveness.

In other words, in order for a sign to constitute a trademark, it must be prima facie distinctive. Remember that the main focus of trademark rights is to eliminate confusion as to what is what; or who owns what.

Trademarks, in Nigeria, are registered at the Nigerian Trade Marks Registry. The trademark registrar acts on the authority of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment. In fact, the Trademarks, Patent and Design Registry is under the Commercial Law Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

Apart from being distinctive, a word to be registered as a trademark must have no direct reference to the character or quality of the goods. It must not be a geographical name or a surname. It cannot also be contrary to law, morality, or be scandalous.

Largely, a word that is commonly used in relation to a trade cannot be registered for a product in that trade. For example, the word ‘Milky’ may not be trademarkable for a milk product. However, ‘Milky Dem’ may be trademarked for a sanitary pad.

Trademark Rights in Nigeria

Trademark rights may arise in Nigeria based on either use or registration.

Through frequent and popular use of an unregistered trademark, a user can acquire goodwill in that mark. In such a case, such a user can enjoy the right of passing off, as may be held by a court of competent jurisdiction. For a claim of passing off to succeed, the user must show that he has acquired goodwill in the mark and that the ‘infringement’ has led to injury.

However, the user of an unregistered trademark cannot bring a successful action in case of infringement, or claim damages for his loss.

A registered trademark enjoys full rights under the law. It can be protected by the Court, assigned, or willed.

In Patkum Industries Ltd. v. Niger Shoes Manufacturing Ltd (1988) 5 NWLR (part 93) 139 at 141 and Dyk Trade Ltd. v. Omnia (Nig.) (2000) 12 NWLR (Part 680) 1 at 9, it was held that Trade Mark when registered, entitled the proprietor to sue or institute an action for an infringement.

Trademarks Classification in Nigeria

Trademarks are grouped in classes. In classifying trademarks, Nigeria adopts the Nice Classification Scheme. In line with this classification, trademarkable goods and services are divided into 45 classes. The same trademark cannot be registered in the same class.

In the earlier cited Fedoro case, the Court also held that, “An action for infringement will therefore lie where a competitor uses registered Trade Mark in connection with proprietor’s goods for the purpose of competing them with his own goods in the same class. See Bismag Ltd v. Amblins (Chemists) Ltd. (1940) Ch 667.”

Trademark Registration in Nigeria

As earlier stated, trademark registration in Nigeria are done at the Nigerian Trade Marks Registry.

In registering a trademark in Nigeria, the involvement of a lawyer or an accredited agent is well advised. There are possible issues in the registration that requires specific know-how.

Processes involved in registering a trademark in Nigeria include:

  1. Searching for the availability of the trademark.
  2. Applying for the trademark.
  3. A notice of Acknowledgment from the Registry.
  4. A notice of Acceptance from the Registry.
  5. Publication of the Trade Marks Journal.
  6. (Possible objection(s) to the Certification of a Trademark.)
  7. Issuance of Certificate of Registration.

An application may be denied by the registry if the word or sign conflicts with an existing one.

Registering a trademark in Nigeria may take around 18-25 months, given there are no objections to or actions arising from objections to the registration. And depending on the professional fee charged by your agent, registration may cost about 100,000 – 200,000 naira.

It is also possible to register a trademark for more than one class. In fact, it is advisable to register your trademark in a class, and in related classes.

In registering a trademark, use or intention to use is also important. However, a trademark may be assigned to a company about to be formed. Its registration can also be accompanied with an application for the registration of a person as a registered user of the trademark.

Lifespan of Registered Trademarks

According to section 23 (1) & (2) of the Trade Marks Act, a registered trademark in Nigeria is valid for seven years. After the expiration of this period of seven (7) years, the registration may be renewed for periods of fourteen (14) years.

Infringement of Trademarks

An unauthorised commercial use of a registered trademark constitutes a trademark infringement. Upon infringement, the owner of the trademark may bring an action against the infringer at the Federal High Court. This is the Court that has competent jurisdiction to hear and determine this issue. The decision of the Federal High Court can further be appealed to the Court of Appeal, and then to the Supreme Court.

On the test for determining whether there was an infringement, the Court in I.T. (Nig.) Ltd. v. B.A.T. (Nig.) Ltd (2009) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1138) 477 held that, “In determining whether a trademark has infringed another, it is the offensive or offending trademark that is considered such that whether the person who sees the offending trademark in the absence of the one breached, and in view of his general recollection, the nature of the offending trademark is likely to deceive him into thinking that the trademark before him is the authentic one.”

Remedies available for trademark Infringement in Nigeria

In a case of trademark infringement, remedies that may be granted by a court in Nigeria are mainly Injunctions and Damages.

As ex parte, the Court may order a preliminary or an interim injunction to restrain acts of infringement pending the decision of the Court. Final injunctions are granted after the trial to perpetually restrain a party from using the trademark.

Damages from infringement actions can also be punitive, special or general.

In the case of CPL Industries Limited v. Morrison Industries Plc (2003-2007) 5, I.P.L.R page 350, Abdullahi Mustapha J. held thus, “Mere proof of infringement entitles the Plaintiff to damages. See Spalding v. Gamage (1915) 31 R.P.C 273. In Draper v. Trist (1939) 56 R.P.C. the Court of Appeal in England held that when passing-off is proved, the Court will infer to some damages to the plaintiff and may award more than nominal damages without proof of special damages.”

Aside from injunctive reliefs and damages, the plaintiff may also be granted an Anton Pillar order in the course of trial, and an order for Account of profits. The defendant may also be asked to pay Costs of the action and solicitors’ fees.

Protecting intellectual properties is very important. No registering a trademark may cause avoidable loss of profit to a business.

See also: Patent in Nigeria


– Trade Marks Act Cap T13 LFN 2004

Nigeria: Trademarks Comparative Guide by John C. Onyido (S.P.A. Ajibade & Co.)

1Cap T13 LFN 2004

2Cap M10 LFN 2004