Under Nigerian law, fraud is both
a crime and a tort. Facts of a transaction leading to economic loss can also
give rise to criminal prosecution by the law enforcement agencies for the
offence of fraud. Both the tortuous claim and the criminal prosecution can be
pursued against an individual simultaneously. The tort of fraud in Nigeria follows
the common law fashion and may be founded on three heads, namely, conflict
of interes
Fraud and deceit, and unjust
The crime of fraud may take the following forms:
  1. Obtaining
    property (i.e. goods or credit) under false pretence prohibited and
    punishable by Sections 419 and 419A of the Criminal Code, Laws of the
    Federation of Nigeria 2004 (“CC 2004”) with three (3) years of
    imprisonment. Where the value of thing obtained by false pretence is
    higher than N1,000.00 (One Thousand Nairan), the offender will be liable
    to seven (7) years of imprisonment;
  2. Forgery
    prohibited and punishable under Section 467 of the CC with three (3) years
    of imprisonment. Please note that certain categories of forgery attract higher
    terms of imprisonment under the CC.
  3. Personation
    which is punishable under Section 484 of the CC with three (3) year term
    of imprisonment or fourteen (14) year term if the personation relates to a
    Will or administration of a deceased’s estate.
  4. Secrete
    commission by an agent, employee or government officials prohibited and
    punishable by Section 494 of the CC with two (2) years of imprisonment or
    N1,000.00 (One Thousand Naira) fine or both. This law also punishes any
    person who gives or agrees to give or offers a gift to an agent as a
    consideration to do or forebear to do an act as favour or disfavour in
    relation to the principal or employer’s business.
Under law, an
employee or agent is obliged to avoid or refrain from engaging in a transaction
that will put him in conflicting situation with the interest of his employer or
principal as the case may be. Secrete profit by an agent in the course of his
principal’s employment, whether in cash or kind, would lead to conflict of
interest unless same is fully disclosed to the principal. Where a case of
conflict of interest is proved, the employer or principal is entitled to
reliefs against the employee or agent accordingly. The available reliefs
against an agent who is found liable are; Rescission of the agreement; Action
for damages; Order to account;  Cost of
the suit.
Under Nigerian
law, the process of recovering any sum of money being defrauded in Nigeria is
to institute an action in tort against the individuals for breach of duty or
unjust enrichment. The
likelihood of recovering any sum of money alleged to have been defrauded in
Nigeria will depend on the plaintiff’s claims and the quality of evidence that
can be adduced in proof of the civil suit brought against the fraudulent individuals
for the recovery of the money.
The standard of proof is based on the
preponderance of evidence adduced. There are three law enforcement
agencies in Nigeria saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting fraud, they
  • The
    Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (“EFCC”)
Head Office: No. 5, Fomella Street,
Off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja, Nigeria.
Lagos Office: No. 15A, Awolowo Road,
Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.
Port Harcourt: No 6A Olufemi Street,
Old GRA, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.
E-mail: E-mail: info@efccnigeria.org.
  •  The
    Nigeria Police: Contact the Special Fraud Unit, Alagbon, Lagos, Nigeria or
    police station across the federation.
  •  The
    Independent Corrupt Practices (and Related Offences) Commission (“ICPC”): Contact
    Address is Plot 802 Constitution Avenue, Central District, PMB 535, Garki Abuja
    Email: info@icpc.gov.ng.

A formal complaint of the alleged fraudulent
malpractices may be made to the EFCC, the ICPC or the Police with all the
material facts and evidence that will assist the law enforcement agency in the
investigation, arrest, bail, seizure of property and prosecution or release of
an offender as the case may be. Complaint can be sent to the agency directly by
the complainant or through his lawyer.
It is important to mention that the decision to
arrest and prosecute, upon investigation of the suspects, is entirely at the
discretion of the law enforcement agency. The State controls the machinery for
the prosecution of any person alleged to have committed a crime and neither the
victim of a crime nor the lawyer can control the action or influence the authority’s
decision to prosecute an offender or not.

Kayode Omosehin Esq.
Associate, Ajumogobia & Okeke
Lagos, Nigeria