In addition to the types of activity set out above, external counsel in Nigeria are being called upon to advise on or participate in the conduct of internal investigations. Where such investigations are at the behest, or for the benefit, of non-Nigerian corporations with interests in Nigeria, the concern is frequently to ensure that local laws are complied with as well as to give local Nigerians insights into applicable foreign laws that bind the non-Nigerian corporations. For example, Nigeria’s data protection and privacy laws are in their infancy when compared with laws in the United States and many European countries. Certain actions may be perfectly legitimate in Nigeria but may run foul of data protection laws in these other jurisdictions and the help of local Nigerian counsel can be valuable for establishing what action may or may not be taken in such situations.
Other situations that have arisen have been where there has been some enforcement action outside Nigeria. Some corporations have addressed the problems solely from a non-Nigerian perspective only to be confronted, later, with Nigerian enforcement activity, and the prospects of having to address, and possibly meet, sanctions in Nigeria that are essentially a repetition of what had been faced elsewhere. There is, therefore, a need to be aware of this danger and to seek local advice at the earliest time. Given the somewhat poor performance of Nigerian enforcement agencies, many corporations may be tempted not to address such problems in as robust a manner as they might have in their home jurisdictions. What needs to be borne in mind, however, is that such poor performance is unlikely to persist indefinitely. The performance of most local enforcement agencies is improving, and in spite of present difficulties, is likely to continue to improve. There are no limitation laws in Nigeria with regard to criminal conduct, so not paying attention to these matters is hardly a sound, or wise, choice.
Moving on from what was required to address anti-bribery enforcements and other requirements; growing mergers and acquisition activity, and the search for new markets in a global economy that has seen little growth in developed economies, have resulted in more and more enhanced due diligence being required to be conducted in relation to acquisitions in Nigeria. This development has extended the work that Nigerian practitioners are being called upon to perform. Nigerian legal practitioners are now increasingly being called upon to provide background advice on Nigerian individuals and on their corporate and business interests. In the future, it is likely that this will become a more significant area for Nigerian practitioners engaged in this area of work.
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