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Lawyers in Nigeria (II); Land of Opportunities, Desert of Legislations

Two women lawyers in Nigeria discussing legal issues

With several corporations in Nigeria, there are bound to be expatriates in the picture. With 1.3 million international migrants & expatriates in Nigeria, Lawyers in Nigeria play an important role in the community.

The most necessary document of permit to be obtained in Nigeria is the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC), which is regarded as a Nigerian Residence Permit & Temporary Work Permit (TWP). Furthermore, authentic Expatriate Quota (EQ) approvals issued by the Federal Ministry of Interior (FMI) are required for expats. 

EQ is granted approval to corporations active in this country for employment, both local & expats, & training for Nigerian understudies to grab skills needed in the field of work nationally & internationally. Most married relocating to Nigeria are accompanied by their spouses. A residence permit with a no-work clause will be issued for accompanying spouses.

Why immigration lawyer is needed in Nigeria?

Aside from all the approvals mentioned above, an immigration lawyer should assist the corporation with Federal Ministry of Interior (FMI) criteria to avoid approved EQ withdrawal & familiarizing corporations with the conditions upon which the approvals would be revoked. 

In some cases, a fine of 3-year imprisonment or NGN 500,000 ($1204.08) will be imposed on expats who failed to obtain permission on time & should be taken up by lawyers for appeal. These cases include refusal to Regularization of Stay (ROS), business renewal & TWP, and CERPAC renewal.

Aside from all the issues stated above, dealing with Nigeria’s Free Trade Zone (FTZ) is a completely different story for corporations or business establishments. Generally, each FTZ has its legislations & regulations for both employers & employees. For two primary legislations, Nigeria Export Processing Zones (NEPZ) Act and Oil & Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA), an immigration lawyer is necessary alongside business lawyers.

To read Part 1, read the article below:

Lawyers in Nigeria (I); Discovering No Man’s Land.

Lawyers diversity in Nigeria

It is of great surprise that in a country with 53.5% Muslim, 45.9% Christian & 0.6% other, in the ranking of top 10 Nigerian lawyers, there are two female lawyers, of which one is at the top of the ranking.

Abimbola Akeredolu is considered the best lawyer in the country. She has graduated from the University of Lagos & Universita Per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy.

She practices Litigation, Arbitration, and Corporate & Commercial Law. Funke Adekoya, another female lawyer in Nigeria, is 8th in the ranking running her full-service legal agency with offices in Lagos, Port-Harcourt & Abuja.

Divorce lawyer in Nigeria: How to process divorce in Nigeria?

Dissolution of marriage in Nigeria is pretty difficult since the only way one can get a divorce in Lagos, or any other major city is if it can be proved that the marriage has broken down irreparably.

However, there is another requirement to process divorce. The petitioner must prove the facts with established grounds such as the respondent’s adultery, misdemeanour, deserting for at least a year, living separately for at least two years or non-compliance with conjugal rights.

Is divorce legal in Nigeria?

Though divorce is legal in Nigeria, the possibility of successfully proving the above-mentioned facts makes the divorce process a mission impossible for a divorce lawyer in Lagos or other major cities. There is a valid question in place in these cases: How long does a divorce take in Nigeria?

With the final court order in favour of the petitioner for divorce, the order becomes absolute within three months if there is no appeal from the affected party.

With these tight laws, it is worth mentioning that based on 2016 National Bureau of Statistics data, only 0.2% of men and 0.3% of women had legally dissolved their marriage. Though, the number set a record in 2018 with a 14 per cent increase. There is no updated figure on the same up-to-date though it shows a decrease per the authorities. 

How to pay a divorce lawyer in Nigeria?

There is another side to the story, too, which could justify the small ratio per capita of divorce cases in this country. A good divorce Lawyer in Nigeria will charge 500,000 NGN ($1205) onwards, whereas a typical Nigerian earns 339,000 NGN ($817) per month.

It is worth mentioning that salaries in the mentioned country range from the lowest average of 85,700 NGN ($207) to the highest average of 1,510,000 NGN ($3,637). This makes divorce a very expensive act of law in the country.

Land of Opportunities, Desert of Legislations

Although being a lawyer in Nigeria is a well-reputed, classy field of work, it should be stated that the Nigerian Legal system has many issues & bottlenecks which make the profession challenging, old-fashioned & in some cases corrupt. Lack of intellectualism to deal with simple legal tasks, added to defrauding clients, bribing judicial officers, and embezzlement of funds in their custody, make the Nigerian Legal System shaky & under question.

Due to a lack of honesty & integrity in its legal system, hiring a lawyer in Nigeria is undoubtedly a great clog in Nigeria’s legal wheel. Numerous small law firms emerging with the buzz of a start-up in Nigeria make the selection of competent firms dire & troublesome.

These are high-end, top-of-the-mind issues that could be mentioned on the Clients’ legislative side.

Judicial Issues and Elections 2023

Nigeria is especially facing deficit issues within its courts, considering the depletion in the number of apex court judges due to retirements and unfortunate deaths in 2021-22. This has resulted in an increased workload for the limited judges present, making the situation even more unfortunate, considering that most cases end up in the Supreme Court through appeals. Currently, there are only 13 judges in the Supreme Court, when 21 have been a stipulation in the Constitution. 

This has also resulted in problems for the lawyers since they are facing issues with their access to justice in the country. 

This is where we take into account the 2023 elections and their importance for the current legal system of Nigeria since there are high chances of new justices being appointed at the Supreme Court level. This is because most of Nigeria’s presidential elections end at the Supreme Court. One such example occurred in 2019 when the Supreme Court dismissed Atiku Abubakar’s petition, which eventually gave victory to President Buhari. 

The composition of the committee with the National Assembly, Election Tribunal for Governorship, and other members at the election level, is expected to bring a welcome change to Nigeria’s legal system, eventually resulting in relief for the lawyers, as their clients. 

Court Issues: unresolvable yet obliged

The unprecedented, excessive delays in Nigerian courts make legal cases of divorce, immigration, business, or criminal, complicated & time-consuming. Due to these delays, lawyers do not have the time to defend their cases in the courtroom since the judge is always in a hurry to usher them off the court stage.

Another court-related issue is Interlocutory Appeals. These appeals are against an interlocutory decision of a trial court or against the interlocutory decision of the Court of Appeal, which could take up to years to reach a conclusion since the interlocutory appeal is concluded at the Supreme Court.

With Nigeria’s life expectancy of 49, sometimes witnesses, clients, charged, delegated, entitled or appointed figures could die, not considering the documents getting lost in the system!

The aforementioned data could be added to the lack of a technological approach in the judicial system. While technology is a trend worldwide (in the United Kingdom, most offices are 80% “paperless”, and the majority of the research is done online), judges in Nigeria still have to write down all that is said, unlike judges in developed countries where stenographers are used.

Consequently, the whole above-mentioned points could be summarized in a single sentence: “While being a lawyer is a classy job there, one should be aware of the stereotypes & clichés ruling the judicial system of the country to become successful.”

However, things are channelled in the right direction, as seen from the recent partnership between the Institute of African Women in Law (IAWL) and the Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum (NBAWF). This partnership shall give rise to three distinct reports on women in law and leadership in the legal profession. While this involves a study of only women in law, the reports shall be important in understanding the difficulties faced by lawyers, which is further capable of improving the working environment for lawyers in Nigeria. 


As said in these two articles, the pros and cons of this country are being understood. But with knowledge and advice from professionals in that area, you can make the best of working and investing there.

So whether you’re an investor who wants to invest or a citizen, you might have different needs, like any other place. Considering the different practice areas and different needs that an individual or an entity may bump into, you might be puzzled about managing all these things!

Here in LegaMart, we have the whole package 0-100 for your every legal need, and on the bright side, we offer you a free Consultancy. Whether seeking an immigration lawyer or investing opportunities in Nigeria, we at LegaMart can serve you all.

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