Can a Director of a private company be appointed by a Will? by Teingo Inko-Tariah

Can a Director of a private company be appointed by a Will? by Teingo Inko-Tariah

Mr Arrowhead, a very prominent Nigerian suffered a stroke and was flown abroad where he received medical attention for several months. Unfortunately, he died abroad and his body was flown back to the country for burial which was celebrated in grand style. Although Mr Arrowhead left a will, there was serious contention among family members over the content of the will especially as some of the family members felt disappointed over what was bequeathed to them. Typical of a polygamous family, the will was contested in court. However, that is not the main thrust of this paper. It was discovered that in the will, the testator purportedly appointed his wife as a director of one of his companies. This is a real life situation and raises the question which this paper seeks to address. Can a director of a company be appointed by a will?

Who is a director?
S 244(1) Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2004 defines directors as “persons duly appointed by the company to direct and manage the business of the company”. s. 567 CAMA further describes the term director to “include any person occupying the position of director by whatever name he may be called and includes any person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors of the company are accustomed to act”. Directors are officers of a company who are appointed to operate the business for the benefit of the shareholders. According to s. 567 CAMA, ‘officer’ in relation to a corporate body includes a director, manager or secretary. There are two broad categories of directors in modern corporate practice and governance. They are executive directors and non-executive directors. Executive directors are those directly engaged in the day to day management of the business on a full time basis while non-executive directors are external board members who act as a check on the executive management. They are usually appointed on part time basis and they have become more prominent with the development of corporate governance. There are various types of directors: shadow, alternate, independent, and life director.
Appointment of directors
The authority to act as a director of a company comes from due appointment. Thus a person who acts without such appointment commits an offence under s. 244(3) & 250 CAMA and he would be personally liable for his actions. Where the company holds out a person not duly appointed as a director to carry out responsibilities in that capacity, the company will also be liable to a fine s. 244(4) CAMA. However, although a director may not have been duly appointed in accordance with the law, his actions in that capacity may still bind the company as if he were a de jure director (i.e. one who was duly appointed) if it is the company that holds him out as a director. Therefore appointment is a fundamental criterion which validates the position and authority of a director of a company.
In Nigeria, the law provides for the manner in which the director of a company may be appointed: who can appoint and how to appoint a director. For the first directors, the law provides that they should be appointed by the subscribers to the memorandum of association of the company, a majority of them or they may be named in the articles of association of the proposed company. For subsequent appointments generally, it is the shareholders in a general meeting who are empowered by law to appoint directors by ordinary resolution. The board of directors of a company could also appoint other directors subject to the approval of the shareholders at the next annual general meeting where a vacancy arises from death, resignation, removal of a director. This is referred to as filling a casual vacancy and where the newly appointed director is not approved by the shareholders in a general meeting, he would cease to be a director. Where all shareholders and directors of a company die, any of the personal representatives may apply to court to convene a meeting of all personal representatives of the shareholders entitled to attend and vote at a general meeting to appoint new directors to manage the company. Where the personal representatives of the deceased shareholders fail to do so, the creditors of the company, if any, shall be able to appoint a director.
What role does the Articles of Association play in appointment prescriptions? Life director, share qualification.
The AOA is the document that makes provision for the internal management of a company. It is a part of the constitution of the company which sets out the rules for running the company. Typically, the article of association should contain provisions relating to share capital, classes of shares, rights and restriction to each class of shares, allotment, transfer and transmission of shares, meetings, resolutions, directors, auditors, company secretary, the seal, winding up. With regards to directors, the articles of association prescribes the appointment, removal, disqualification, remuneration, tenure of office, rotation, filling of casual vacancy of directors and also provides for life director where the company so wishes. Usually, in corporate practice, where the law is silent on an issue, it is the articles of association that would provide direction on such issue thus, for instance, in Nigeria; the CAMA, 2004 is silent on the issue of alternate directors although the practice is recognised in the corporate sector. Therefore, companies that wish to have alternate directors would make such provision in the articles of association as the basis for adopting the practice. Another instance is meetings via conference calls.
What is a will and what kind of bequest can be made by a will?
A will is a voluntary expression of the intention or wishes of a person of sound mind wherein the person states or gives directives of how his property should be disposed of in event of his death. Property given by a person in a will is referred to as legacy and could either be chattels i.e. movable items such as wrist-watch or car; realty i.e. immovable items such as land or buildings; or pecuniary i.e. money.
Directorship in a company is not a type of property and does not fall under the types of properties that can be bequeathed by a will. A person who dies automatically ceases to be a Director of the Company and so loses the power to bind the company which is a separate entity from the owners & Directors. Any subsequent director can only be validly appointed by due procedures laid down by statute. Thus, any purported appointment by a will goes to no issue as it cannot be recognised except due process has been followed. At best, it can serve as an expression of intention of the deceased director as to who he wishes to be on the Board of the company. This intention can only be executed by the living Directors, if any and until so executed, it is invalid.

Photo Credits –



Many people have always toyed
with the idea of registering their own companies and organisations, with SMEs
sprouting up like wildfires in Nigeria and the drive for self- employment
gaining momentum. Whether your start-up is about IT, legal or business services
or you are considering starting your own NGO; one of first things you will have
to do is register your company or organisation. That’s where this article comes

 Registering your organisation or company
in Nigeria is fairly easy and not as difficult as some believe it is, the
process begins at Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the CAC is in charge of
regulating company affairs and conducting company registration in Nigeria.
There is a CAC office in every state while Lagos State has two.

Incorporating a company or corporations
is distinct from sole proprietorships and partnerships in a number of ways. The
most obvious difference between a corporation and other business structures is
the ability of corporations to raise large sums of money by selling stock
shares to investors. Instead of being centered on a single person or a small
group, ownership of an incorporated business is spread out among stockholders,
who have the right to vote on key business decisions. There are 3 major forms of
companies including;
1.      Company
limited by shares
Because most
companies are limited by shares, this ‘stake’ usually refers to the shares held
by the company’s shareholders. In such a company, the shareholders’ obligation
is to pay the company for the shares they have taken in it. The individual puts
money into the company, and in return the company gives it a percentage of
ownership, in the form of shares (how much of a company the individual in
question owns depends on how many shares he/she has in comparison with the other
people, if any, who own shares in that company). Requirements for registering a corporation in Nigeria include;

  • Availability and Reservation of Name
  • Payment of appropriate Stamp Duty to Federal
    Board of Inland Revenue
  • Submission of Memorandum and Articles of
    Association together with statutory forms for verification and assessment
  • Payment of filing fees at the Corporate Affairs

limited by guarantee

In a company
limited by guarantee, there are no shares – hence there are no shareholders.
Instead, the company will have ‘members’. The members of a company limited by
guarantee are bound by a guarantee in the company’s articles of association,
which requires them to pay the company’s debts up to a fixed sum. Requirements for Incorporation of a Company
Limited by Guarantee include:
  •  Availability and Reservation of Name
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Completion of Statutory Forms
  • Payment of Stamp Duty to Federal Board of Inland
  •  Payment of filing fees
  • The consent of the Attorney-General of the
3.     Unlimited
company is a private company whereby the owners or the partners accept
unlimited and personal liability for its debts in order to avoid double
taxation of a limited company. This type of company is exempted from publishing
their annual account with public authority. Simply registering a business name
is often favoured by Sole proprietors i.e. an individual proprietor who owns
and manages the business and is responsible for all business transactions. The
owner is also personally responsible for all debts and liabilities incurred by
the business. Partnerships may also conduct their business by simply
registering a business name. You can register your busy name in very easy
Choose a number of uncommon business names
(about 3).
Conduct a search at the CAC to find out if the
name is available.
Submit a duly completed statutory form with two
passport sized photographs of each applicant attached to the form.
Pay filing fees at the CAC

Reservation of name at the CAC cost N500 (Five Hundred
Naira) while registering business name cost N10, 000 (Ten Thousand Naira). Note
that the proposed name of your business must be clearly written on the form and
individuals can register a business name without the services of a lawyer.

A non-governmental organization
(NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a
local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with
a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian
functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies
and encourage political particpation through provision of information. Some are
organized around specific issues, such as human rights, environment or health.
They provide analysis and expertise, serve as early warning mechanisms and help
monitor and implement international agreements. Registration of Incorporated
Trustees (NGO’s) takes the following procedure;
  •  Availability of name 
  •  Procurement of application form which contains a
    memorandum for guidance of application.
  • Publication of notices in three (3) national
    dailies, one being a local newspaper widely circulated in the area where the
    organization is based.
  • Submission of the duly completed application
    form in triplicate which should be accompanied by the following.
  •  A formal letter of application
  •  The original newspaper publications
  • 2 copies of Applicant’s constitution 
  • Minutes of the meeting whereat the trustees were
    appointed, having the list of members present and absent and showing the voting
    pattern, signed by Chairman and Secretary of the Board.
  • Minutes of the meeting where the special clause
    rules was adopted into the constitution of the organization; signed by
    Secretary and Chairman.
  • Trustees (Applicants) have to attach 2 passport
    sized photographs of themselves.
  • Trustees have to sign against their names on the
    application form (encld) and furnish permanent residential addresses.
  • The
    impression of the common seal should be affixed on page 11 of the form and draft
    of 20,000.00k in favour of CAC and made payable in Abuja.
  • Two copies of the application form.
  • Application form duly signed by Secretary and
    Chairman of the Board.

For futher information on company
registeration, log on to the CAC Website on

Adedunmade Onibokun