Debt is a state of being under an obligation to pay or repay someone or something in return for something received.


6/14/20224 min read


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Debt is a state of being under an obligation to pay or repay someone or something in return for something received. It is an obligation which requires a party known as the debtor, to pay money or any valuable property to the other party, referred to as the creditor.


  • Is it legal to involve the Police in recovering debts?

It is illegal and unconstitutional to involve the Police in recovering debts. owing debt is a civil wrong, and not criminal wrong. The Nigerian Police force and other security agents may not have the power to arrest a debtor except the debtor, through the commission of a crime incurs such debt. ·

  • Why is it illegal to involve the Police in recovering debts?

You are advised to resist the urge to resort to self-help in the process of recovering your debts. Self-help includes, threats, harassments, oppression of the debtor, the use of thugs and other despicable acts. The use of Police, is also a form of self-help. This is because it is not within the bounds of law to involve them and they usually have a percentage from the amount of money recovered. The court has also declared this practice unlawful as the major duty of the police is detection of crime, protection of lives and properties amongst all others.

  • What to do if a creditor uses the Police to harass you?

When your creditor resorts to self-help, resist the urge to fight back or it might affect the law suit you plan to institute against the creditor. What you need to do is to contact a Legal Practitioner, who depending on the circumstances of your case can commence an action against your debtor for enforcement of fundamental human rights, battery, false imprisonment, etc.

It is important to state that there is a limitation period to which a debt can be recovered in Nigeria. The limitation period for debt recovery that arose from a simple contract is six (6) years excluding the year the contract was entered into and executed. So it is, therefore, advisable to institute an action for debt recovery before it becomes statute-barred when the 6 years elapses as provided under Section 21(1) (a) of the Limitation of Action Law.


  • Parties Agreement

It cannot be overemphasized that an agreement should always be drafted when parties are getting into any form of contract, especially when it involves payment from one party to the other. The parties are allowed to include how any obligation or resulting debt owed to another party can be enforced or recovered in their agreement upon a breach by either party. They may resort to using the procedure they have chosen to follow under the agreement, which may include arbitration or any other alternative dispute resolution. The parties may resort to using a neutral third party in resolving the issues if stipulated in the agreement. It could be by way of mediation, which will involve bringing a mediator to help resolve the issues. ·

  • Publication of Debtor’s Refusal on the Newspaper

This one of the methods that have been utilised by so many companies to recover their debt. Although, this method has its merits, in that debtors won’t want their name (reputation) to be marred. Because of this concern, they tends to pay as soon as their name has been publish to the public to see.

  • Litigation:

The court is vested with the power to hear and determine an action for debt recovery and enforce payment against a stubborn debtor. A lawyer acting on behalf of the creditor will commence a debt recovery action and for damages for breach of contract. The lawyer may also bring an application for the preservation of the moveable and immoveable property of the debtor pending the final determination of the court proceedings. Where the debtor is a company, a winding-up proceeding may be commenced along with the action for Summary Judgment against the debtor. It is trite law that in an action for the recovery of debt, the cause of action accrues upon demand for the payment of the debt. Where no demand is made, a cause of action does not arise and no action can be commenced in court. So until such a letter of demand is issued, no right of action would arise and accrue to enable commencement of legal action in a Court of law for the recovery of the debt in question. In the case of Hung v. E.C.

Invest. Co. Nig. Ltd, it was held, that: – “In a claim for recovery of a debt, the cause of action accrues when a demand is made and the debtor refuses to pay.”

Upon consultation with the Lawyer, the Lawyer is expected to write a letter to the debtor demanding the funds owed, warning about dire consequences if payment is not received on or before a stipulated date. A letter of demand serves as a pre-action notice for a debt recovery proceeding. The debtor may pay up or negotiate an installment payment once he or she has received a demand notice.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact



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