THE RIGHTS OF THE NIGERIAN CHILD AS PROTECTED UNDER THE LAW OF THE REALM: THE PROVISION OF CHILD’S RIGHTS ACT (ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURE) RULES 2015.

By M. O OLANREWAJU

INTRODUCTION

In Nigeria, children’s rights are protected by law and are therefore sacred. Not only does the law protect the child, it also stipulates punishments for adults who take advantage of children or seek to negatively influence them[i]. The law seeks to prevent cruelty against children while stating the rights and obligations of Nigerian child.

This article would be based on the rights of children under the Child’s Rights Act[ii] and the Enforcement Procedures within the Family Court in the Federal Capital Territory provided under the Child Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2013[iii].

DEFINITION OF TERMS

CHILD: Biologically, a child is a human being between the stages of birth and puberty or between the developmental period of infancy and puberty[iv]. The legal definition of child generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority[v].

Under the Child Rights Act[vi] no specific age was provided as the age of a child, but Section 21 of the Child’s Rights Act of 2003 states that:

“No person under the age of 18years is capable of contracting a valid marriage, and accordingly a marriage contracted is null and void and of no effect whatsoever”

Based on the above we can assume that the legal age is 18 years.

RIGHT: Something to which one has a just claim[vii].

 

RIGHTS ACCORDED TO A CHILD

Children’s rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors[viii]. Generally, children’s rights includes their right to association with both parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for physical protection, food, universal state-paid education, health care and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child, equal protection of child’s civil rights, and freedom from discrimination on the basics of the child race, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, color, ethnicity or other characteristics[ix]. Interpretations of children’s rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse, though what constitutes ‘abuse’ is a matter of debate[x].

The Child’s Rights Act of 2003 provided for rights of children under the Part II of the Act:

  • Right to survival and development[xi].
  • Right to name[xii].
  • Freedom of association and peaceful assembly[xiii].
  • Freedom of thought, conscience and religion[xiv].
  • Right to private and family life[xv].
  • Right to freedom of movement[xvi].
  • Right to freedom from discrimination[xvii].
  • Right to dignity of the child[xviii].
  • Right to leisure, recreation and cultural activities[xix].
  • Right to health and health services[xx].
  • Right to parental care, protection and maintenance[xxi].
  • Right of a child to free, compulsory and universal primary education[xxii].
  • Right of a child in need of special protection measure[xxiii].
  • Right of an unborn child to protection against harm, etc[xxiv].

The Act[xxv] does not only provide for rights of a child but also prohibit some acts contradicting the right given or act that are hazardous to the wellbeing of a child. The Act[xxvi] prohibits child marriage as no person under the age of eighteen years is capable of contracting a valid marriage and accordingly a marriage so contracted is null and void and of no effect whatsoever[xxvii]. In addition, parents and guardians are precluded from arranging or facilitating child betrothals[xxviii] and any person who marries a child: or to whom a child is betrothed; or who promotes the marriage of a child; or who betroths a child, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of 500,000 or imprisonment for a term of five years or both[xxix].

It is against the law to tattoo or mark the skin of a child, any person who tattoos or make a skin mark on a child commits an offence under the Act[xxx] is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand naira or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or to both such fine and imprisonment[xxxi].

Exposing a child to the use or trafficking of narcotics is a serious crime and any person found guilty is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life[xxxii]. Employing a child for the facilitation of criminal act is also an offence under the Act and any person found guilty is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of fourteen years[xxxiii].

It is unlawful to have sexual intercourse with a child; any person who contravenes this provision commits an offence of rape and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life[xxxiv]. It is immaterial that the offender believed the person to be of or above the age of eighteen years; or the sexual intercourse was with the consent of the child[xxxv].

It may be interesting to note that a child may bring an action for damages against a person for harm or injury caused to the child willfully, recklessly, negligently or through neglect before or during or after the birth of the child[xxxvi]. Also where the father of an unborn child dies intestate, the unborn child is entitled, if he was conceived during the lifetime of his father, to be considered in the distribution of the estate of the deceased father[xxxvii]. Where the mother of an unborn child dies intestate before the child is delivered, the unborn child is entitled, if he survives his mother, to be considered in the distribution of the estate of the deceased mother[xxxviii].

From all the above, it is seen that from the provision of the Act[xxxix] it was able to protect the interest of a child and through the Act, the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2013 was passed. The purpose of establishing the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2013 is to regulate the practice procedure of the court in cases on child’s rights. This enforcement procedure is a utilization tool to meet the desired excellent implementation of the Child’s Rights Act.

THE CHILD RIGHTS ACT (ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURE) RULES 2013[xl]

Prior to the 2003, Nigerian child protection was defined by the Children and Young People’s Act (CYPA), a law relating primarily to juvenile justice.

In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child’s Rights Act[xli] to domesticate the convention on the Rights of the child[xlii]. This Act was created to serve as a legal documentation and protection of children rights and responsibilities in Nigeria[xliii]. This law was also passed at the federal level in Nigeria and it is known as the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015[xliv]. This law came into existence when the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Hon. Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, in exercise of his power to make rules for regulating the practice and procedure of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja conferred on him under section 259 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and in conjunction with Section 49 (1) of the Child’s Rights Act 2003 which gives power to the court to make rules specifying  the procedure to be followed in proceedings, made the Rules of Procedure for the enforcement of child’s rights in the Family Courts within the Federal Capital Territory[xlv].

The overriding objectives of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2013[xlvi] is provided in the preamble of the Rules and it states that:

  • The court shall constantly and conscientiously seek to give effect to the overriding objectives of these rules at every stage of child rights proceedings, especially whenever it exercises any power given it by these Rules or any other law or enactment, and whenever it applies or interprets any rule.
  • The best interest of a child shall be of paramount consideration on all actions or decisions of the court and all proceedings shall be conducted in an atmosphere of understanding for the child to participate and express himself/herself freely.
  • Cases shall be dealt with in ways which are proportionate to the nature, importance and complexity of the issues and to the needs of the child and society.
  • The court shall constantly and conscientiously interpret the Act in a manner that will safeguard the interest of the child at all times especially their personality, talents, mental and physical ability and their overall development.

The above is to make sure children in Nigeria enjoy their rights and to safe guard their interest at all times. The provision of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015 was able to achieve these goals through the step-by-step provision on how to go about the procedures in relation to the rights of children. The Rules[xlvii] was made with the best interest of children at heart. The following provisions of the Rules stated below are example of this.

The Order 2 of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015[xlviii] provides for the composition of the family court which consists of a judge and two assessors not below the rank of a chief child development officer, one of whom has attributes of dealing with children and matters relating to children preferably in the area of child psychology education.

Order 4 of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015 provides for forms and commencement of action. The mode of commencement of action is by an application in a prescribed form as contained in Form 1 of the schedule to the rules[xlix].

Order 6 of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015 provides for non-limitation of action. This means that no action filed for enforcement of the rights of the child shall be affected by any limitation statute[l].

Oder 14 Rule 4 of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015[li] provides that a child has a right to be represented by a legal practitioner and where necessary to a free legal aid in the hearing and determination of any matter concerning the child in court.

Apart from the above provisions the Rules provides for wardship[lii], fostering, guardianship[liii], possession and custody of children[liv] and adoption[lv].

The purpose for establishing the Child’s Rights Act[lvi] and the Child Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015[lvii] is to make the best interest of a child be of paramount consideration in all actions or decisions of the court[lviii].

CONCLUSION

The Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015 provides for procedures to follow in court when any right of a child has been breached. The Child’s Rights Act 2003 provides for rights of children and punishment ascribed when any of these rights is infringed. The result of the combination of these laws would be of great impact and would be of merit to the society at large. It would help in curbing crime in the society and help in building confidence in children.

[i] https://www.legalnaija.com/2014/01/legal-rights-of-nigerian-child.html?m=1

[ii] Child’s Rights Act 2003

[iii] Child’s Rights Act  (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[iv] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/child

[v] Supra

[vi] Child’s Rights Act, 2003.

[vii] https ://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/right

[viii] supra

[ix] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children’s_rights

[x] supra

[xi] Section 4 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xii] Section 5 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xiii] Section 6 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xiv] Section 7 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xv] Section 8 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xvi] Section 9 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xvii] Section 10 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xviii] Section 11 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xix] Section 12 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xx] Section 13 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxi] Section 14 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxii] Section 15 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxiii] Section 16 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxiv] Section 17 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxv] Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxvi] supra

[xxvii] Section 21of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxviii] Section 22 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxix] Section 23 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxx] The Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxxi] Section 24 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxxii] Section 25 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxxiii] Section 26 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxxiv] Section 31 of the Child’s Rights Act 2003

[xxxv] https://www.legalnaija.com/2014/01/legal-rights-of-nigerian-child.html?m=1

[xxxvi] Supra

[xxxvii] Supra

[xxxviii] Supra

[xxxix] Child’s Rights Act, 2003.

[xl] Child ’s Rights Act  (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[xli] Child’s Rights Act, 2003.

[xlii]  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_Rights_Act_in_Nigeria

[xliii] supra

[xliv] The Child’s Rights Act  (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[xlv] The Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[xlvi] supra

[xlvii] The Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[xlviii] The Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[xlix] supra

[l] The Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[li] supra

[lii] Order 24 of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[liii] Order 23 of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[liv] Order 22 of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[lv] Order 26 of the Child’s Rights Act (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2015

[lvi] Child’s Rights Act, 2003.

[lvii] supra

[lviii][lviii]  www.unicef.org/nigeria/child-protection

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ADMISSIBILITY OF COMPUTER-GENERATED EVIDENCE & POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATIONS TOWARDS EFFECTIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN LINE WITH SECTION 84 OF THE EVIDENCE ACT 2011.

By Gerald Ajoku Esq.

INTRODUCTION

To say that the Evidence Act in Nigeria was in a frozen state before 2011 is an understatement. It is against this background that on the 3rd day of June, 2011 will for a long time to come, remain memorable to lawyer, judges and all those who are interested in the Nigerian Legal System. On this day, President Jonathan signed into law the   Act, 2011. Many areas in the 1945 Act were in dire need of a reform, especially the areas relating to information technology in the specie of computer/electronically generated evidence. Growth and development over the years makes Computer a necessary business tool. Virtually every business transaction across the world, Nigeria inclusive, are largely computer related.

When the former Evidence Act (1945) was enacted, there must have existed very limited computers. Means of record keeping was predominantly through papers, files and cabinets.  Today, the world has moved into more modern storage means, ranging from audio recording, video recording, CDs, DVDs, SMS messages to emails.

ADMISSIBILITY OF COMPUTER GENERATED DOCUMENT UNDER SECTION 84 OF THE EVIDENCE ACT 2011.

In general, the threshold test for the admissibility of evidence, including computer generated document is relevancy. Accordingly, only computer-generated documents, which establish the existence or non-existence of facts in dispute, are relevant, provided they are not rendered inadmissible by other exclusionary rule of law.

Proof Evidence Facts Information Findings Word Collage 3d Illustration

As regards, the standard for assessing the admissibility of computer-generated documents, the act extensively provides:

  • In any proceeding a statement contained in a document produced by a computer shall be admissible as evidence of any fact stated in it of which direct oral evidence would be admissible, if it is shown that the conditions in subsection (2) of this section are satisfied in relation to the statement and computer in question.
  • The conditions referred to in subsection (1) of this section are-
    1. that the document containing the statement was produced by the computer during a period over which the computer was used regularly to store or process information for the purposes of any activities regularly carried on over that period, whether for profit or not, by anybody, whether corporate or not, or by any individual;
    2. that over that period there was regularly supplied to the computer in the ordinary course of those activities information of the kind contained in the statement or of the kind from which the information so contained is derived;
    3. that throughout the material part of that period the computer was operating properly or, if not, that in any respect in which it was not operating properly or was out of operation during that part of that period was not such as to affect the production of the document or the accuracy of its contents; and
    4. that the information contained in the statement reproduces or is derived from information supplied to the computer in the ordinary course of those activities.

The Requirement for System Operator’s Certificate

Note that in any proceeding where computer generated evidence is intended to be presented, Section 84(4) of the Evidence Act which requires certificate duly signed by the designated system operator or any person who has responsibility for the management and operation of the computer system.

Failure to lay the necessary foundation of the admissibility of computer-generated evidence would render the document inadmissible. This trend of Nigerian Case law is predictable for the recent Supreme Court decision in Dr. Imoro Kubur & Anor v Hon. Seriake Henry Dickson & Ors. The document is online newspaper. The Supreme Court held that the document was inadmissible for failure to satisfy the four conditions stated in section 84(2) of the Evidence Act, 2011.

Electronic Evidence and Hearsay Rules

It is also important to examine how the source of Information and the mode of storage are relevant in determining whether the information constitutes hearsay or not. Computer information may be generated from variety of sources which include:

  1. Information supplied by human beings (for example where an operator input data into the computer);
  2. Information obtained from another device (e.g. shared data from equipment connected to network and);
  3. Information independently or automatically perceived or sensed by the computer evidence (e.g. auto recording by CCTV Camera etc).

Section 84(5) of the Evidence Act further takes care of this by outlining some of the varied sources of computer inputs and treats any documents obtained from any of the sources as a document produced by the computer whether it is produced by it directly or (with or without human intervention) by means of any device. It provides that for the purpose of this section:

  1. information shall be taken to be supplied to a computer if it is supplied to it in any appropriate form and whether it is supplied directly or (with or without human intervention) by means of any appropriate equipment;
  2. where, in the course of activities carried on by any individual or body, information is supplied with a view to its being stored or processed for the purposes of those activities by a computer operated otherwise than in the course of those activities, that information, if duly supplied to that computer, shall be taken to be supplied to it in the course of those activities;
  3. A document shall be taken to have been produced by a computer whether it was produced by it directly or (with or without human intervention) by means of any appropriate equipment.

PROBLEMS

Overall, the classification and innovations introduced y the Evidence Act, 2011 particularly as regards the admissibility of computer/electronically generated evidence in a welcome development. However, it is plausible to argue that there remain a few problems that are being or are likely to be encountered in the application of Section 84 of the Act. These are:

  1. Reliability and Authenticity – This arises from the mode. The means by which the evidence in form are in stored. The questions that now come to mind are informal reliable. Is it of a quality that cannot remain untampered? Some software has been designed in such a way that makes any form of alteration is tampering difficult. On the other hand, documents saved in a computer and other devices such as recording devices are susceptible to tampering the challenge raises the question or authenticity. Having regard to section 84 (2) of the Evidence Act 2011 there is no doubt that facts relating to the integrity of a particular Evidence, the manner in which a document was generated, maintained and produced , will be relevant in attaching weight to it. In effect the court is bound by to consider all the circumstances from which the accuracy of the electronic evidence may be inferred and the court could attach as much or as little evidential weight to the electronic evidence as the circumstances of the case dictates. This recommendation was in line with the English case of the state of Delhi v. Mohd. Afzad & Ors. it was held that if someone challenges the accuracy of a computer evidence or electronic evidence on the ground of misuse of system or operating failure, he must prove same beyond reasonable doubt. The court observe that mere therotical and general apprehensions cannot make clear evidence defective and inadmissible
  2. Computer illiteracy among legal practitioners. Another major problem is that, most legal practitioners in Nigeria today are not yet computer literate. Lawyers should learn to appreciate the use of computer to discharge it duty as a legal practitioner, caution then is to be exercised by legal practitioners who are entrusted with evidence by their clients to avoid tampering or simply erasing the file, because electronic information is of a delicate nature.
  3. The Unpopular Nature of the IT (Information Technology) system in the judiciary some sections of the judiciary are yet to embrace computer friendly equipment. Judges still record long hand processes are filed and served manually. Unlike some advanced jurisdictions when police officers are increasingly using videos and tape recording in the investigation process, most police station is Nigeria still use handwritten confessional statements often denied by accused persons.

Recommendation

  1. It is recommended that computer literacy, which is very important, should be taken more seriously by law student, legal practitioners and indeed the entire judiciary, if the innovations introduced by the Evidence Act are to be fully appreciated.
  2. Our court need to be better equipped with adequate modern facilities to cope with the modern trends.

It is hoped that in the very near future, electronically generated evidence will assist in bringing about a faster, more accurate and more efficient dispensation of justice in Nigeria.

The ball is once again, in the court and the legislature to consider these recommendations. In matters concerninig legislation, the court are not in any stead to act, in UBA V. Tejumola & Sons, Obaseki, JSC, puts it most succinctly;

The court is not the legislature. Its duty is to interpret the law and        apply it to facts in the administration of justice. Its does not over step its bound and trespass upon sacred province of the legislature to enact laws and amend or repeal laws. The court can only draw attention to areas of the law where amendment is required or desirable.”

It is therefore incumbent upon the National Assembly to show sufficient interest on these issues as a matter of utmost urgency. The National Assembly should appreciate that we live in a changing world which require changing law. In a progressive world the law should not be static.

REFERENCES

  1. Evidence Act, 2011
  2. A guide to the Admissibility of Electronic Evidence by Alaba Omolaye 2016.
  3. A paper presented by prof. Amos Atuama on Computer Generated Evidence.

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AN APPRAISAL OF CREDITORS VOLUNTARY WINDING UP IN NIGERIA

INTRODUCTION

Whatever comes to life also has to die; it is no different in corporate practice either. A company which is an artificial person with the powers and rights of a living person can also die, and winding-up is the process by which a company is liquidated and dissolved, its assets are distributed in accordance with certain rules of priority, for the benefit of its creditors, members and the employee.

In the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990(CAMA), winding up was defined as:

The liquidation or winding up of a company is the process whereby its life is ended and property administered for the benefit of its creditors and members. The process resembles the administration of a deceased’s estate.”

Also since we will be focusing on winding up by a creditor in this article, it is relevant to know who a creditor is. A creditor is a person to whom debt is owed by another person, called the debtor. the aforementioned definition is the strict legal sense of the term; but in the wider sense it means one who has a legal right to demand and recover from another a sum of money on any account whatever, hence may include the owner of any right of action against another, whether arising on contract or for a tort, a penalty, or a forfeiture.

The term creditors winding up is thus a process where a company is dissolved by a person to whom debt is owed, usually where the company is unable to pay the debt.

MODES OF WINDING UP

By virtue of Section 401 of CAMA, there are three (3) ways by which a company’s life comes to an end namely;

  1. By Court
  2. Voluntary and
  3. Subject to the supervision of Court.

Whatever mode is adopted, it is for the realization of some objectives i.e: to sell the assets of the company and distribute the net proceeds to the creditors and to the members.

VOLUNTARY WINDING UP UNDER S. 401 CAMA

As earlier mentioned, there are various modes of winding up a company, amongst which includes the voluntary winding up.

Under the voluntary winding up of a company we also have two types;

  1. Members voluntary winding up, and
  2. Creditors’ voluntary winding up.

The creditors’ voluntary winding is the issue for discussion in this paper, however below is a brief discussion on members’ voluntary winding up.

MEMBERS VOLUNTARY WINDING UP

A member of a company is generally any person who holds a share in that company. He subscribes to the memorandum of a company and possesses some rights i.e the right to notice of meetings, right to attend meetings, right to vote in a meeting and others as conferred by CAMA.

In the instance where the members of a company are of the opinion that the company be wound up, a resolution is passed that the company be wound up voluntarily and a declaration of solvency by the directors is made. Consequently, the foregoing is registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission.

A company is wound up voluntarily when:

  1. The period, if any fixed for the duration of the company by the articles expires, or the event, if any, occurs, on occurrence of which the articles provided that the company is to be dissolved and the company in general meeting has passed a resolution requiring the company to be wound up voluntarily. i.e a company incorporated for the sole purpose of promoting an art exhibition
  2. If the company resolves by special resolution that the company be wound up voluntarily.

CREDITORS VOLUNTARY WINDING UP

In this regard, Creditors’ voluntary winding-up is a voluntary winding-up for which a statutory declaration of solvency was not made by the directors of the company.

The term declaration of solvency is a statutory requirement that at a meeting of directors declare that they have made a full inquiry into the affairs of the company and have formed the opinion that the company will be able to pay its debt in full within such period, not exceeding 12 months from the commencement of the winding up.

In differentiating between members’ voluntary winding-up and creditor’s voluntary winding-up, the difference is that in the former a declaration of solvency by the directors is made before the passage of the resolution for winding-up by members and the company stating that the company can indeed pay its debts within time; whereas creditors’ voluntary winding-up is actually members voluntary winding-up that was not preceded by a declaration of solvency by the directors or which despite the declaration, the liquidator is of the opinion that the company will not be able to pay as declared in the statutory declaration of solvency. Therefore the ground for winding up here is that the company is unable to pay its debts.

RELEVANT LAWS FOR WINDING UP

  1. COMPANIES AND ALLIED MATTERS ACT
  2. COMPANIES REGULATION 2012
  3. WINDING UP RULES.

OFFICIALS IN WINDING UP

  1. Liquidator
  2. Official Receiver
  3. Receiver/ Manager
  4. Special Manager

The aforementioned factors are relevant to initiate and conclude the creditors’ voluntary winding up process as provided by section 471 of CAMA.

REQUIREMENTS FOR CREDITORS’ VOLUNTARY WINDING UP

In line with the provisions of Reg.45 of the Companies Regulation 2012, the requirements of creditors’ voluntary winding up include:

  1. Publication of notice of creditors’ meeting in the gazette and two daily newspapers
  2. Resolution for the voluntary winding up, to be filed with CAC within 14 days of passing,
  3. Appointment of liquidator
  4. Publication of notice of appointment of liquidator in the gazette or two newspapers
  5. Notice of appointment of liquidator to be filed with CAC within 14 days of the appointment
  6. Liquidator’s notice of his appointment
  7. Publication of notice of final meeting in the gazette and at least two daily newspapers circulating in the locality where the meeting is being called
  8. Return of final meeting and account of liquidation as laid before and approved by the meeting
  9. Original certificate of registration for cancellation
  10. Updated annual return
  11. Updated statement for filing where applicable( for every banking company or an insurance company or a deposit, provident or benefit society)
  12. Payments of fees.
  • For failure to cause a meeting of directors
  • For appointing a liquidator
  • For appointing a committee of inspection

In conclusion, the creditors voluntary winding up is the right of the creditors by virtue of section 472 of CAMA, needless to say that the supervision of the Court is not required before exercising such right. However, unlike the members voluntary winding up where the members of a company are of the opinion that the company be wound up, and a resolution is passed to that effect, for the creditors of a company to be able to exercise this right of winding up, they must show that a statutory declaration of solvency was not made by the directors of the company or despite the declaration, the liquidator is of the opinion that the company will not be able to pay as declared in the statutory declaration of solvency.

BIBLIOGRAPGY

  • THE COMPANIES AND ALLIED MATTERS ACT 1990
  • SAMUEL A. OSAMOLU, CORPORATE LAW PRACTICE IN NIGERIA (2018) ABUJA, Law Lords Publications.
  • MAYATI CHAMBERS COMPENDIUM OF LAWS UNDER THE NIGERIAN LEGAL SYSTEM ( Second Edition 2008) Lagos, Tama productions.
  • COMPANY REGULATIONS 2012
  • http://www.principality.com.ng/2018/03/13/winding-up-of-companies-in-nigeria/
  • https://www.businessrescueexpert.co.uk/difference-between-members-voluntary-liquidation-and-creditors-voluntary-liquidation/

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AN ANALYSIS OF THE LEGAL STATUS OF CRYPTO-CURRENCY IN THE NIGERIAN FINANCIAL SYSTEM

By U. S. Odigbo

Introduction

Crypto-currency in Nigeria is one of the major off shoots of the Technology wave that has changed the Nigerian business landscape. Advancement in technology has seen the birth of crypto-currency as a major consideration in both the tech and financial worlds.

Crypto-currency is a type of digital currency in which a record of transactions is maintained and new units of currency are generated by the computational solution of mathematical problems, and which operates independently of a central bank; A digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.

A crypto-currency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many crypto-currencies are decentralized networks based on block chain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. A defining feature of crypto-currencies is that they are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation. The crypto currency market has grown over the years and it keeps expanding as new crypto-currencies emerge more frequently. As at August 2018, records revealed the existence of over 1,600 crypto-currencies available on the internet. Currently, there are over 2000 crypto currency and virtual currencies, this goes to show the speed at which it grows.

Crypto-currency: Currency or Commodity

The question arises whether crypto-currencies satisfy the requirements or characteristics of money or a currency and whether crypto-currencies should be classed as currency or commodity. The answers to these posers have attendant legal implications. For instance, classifying crypto-currencies as currency would put them within the purview of currency laws whilst classifying them as commodity may exclude them from the currency laws. Also, classifying crypto-currencies as currency may qualify them as “assets” for capital gains tax purposes; whereas a classification as commodity should bring them within the ambit of goods under consumption tax. As with most concepts, currency has no generally-accepted definition; however, certain characteristics are essential. Currency should have intrinsic value, be a legal tender, ground claim against issuers, be a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. To all these features of a currency, crypto-currency answers  in the negative except that it is now rising as a medium of exchange in online retail and is also used as store of value (subject to high exchange rate risk and sudden confidence shock which may affect its very value). Also, it is decentralized, its supply source is private, the supply quantity is inflexible, the supply rule is based on computer program, and this supply rule can change with the notional agreement of majority miners.

Given their increasing use as a medium of exchange in Nigeria and globally, crypto-currencies are arguably currencies. In my opinion, crypto-currencies are more currency than they are commodities. They are used to trade and make payments despite the fact that they exist purely in a virtual form. Thus, despite the fact that crypto-currencies possess some attributes of commodities, they are more suitable to be classified as currency.

Crypto currency: Economic and Cyber crimes

Cyber-crimes exploit vulnerable infrastructural systems that progressively become interconnected on an almost daily basis. Jesse Bray made the connection between anonymity, crypto-currency and cyber-crime. He posited that the use of crypto-currency is open to cyber-attacks such as Denial of Service attacks, theft, release or manipulation of sensitive data. He argued that the anonymity created in cyberspace allows for the loss of self-regulation, which could amount to deviant behavior. In 2017 a ransom-ware attack affected over 200,000 computers in 150 countries. Sensitive data on these computers were encrypted and the owners were asked to pay ransom amounts to release the information back to them.

There have been a number of criticisms on crypto-currencies, and most have been associated to the criminal tendencies connected with its usage. The US president, Donald J. Trump stated, ”Crypto-currencies are not money given; they are highly volatile and tend to facilitate criminal behavior“. In a similar light he again stressed the potential for using crypto-currencies in other illegal activities such as drug trafficking. A US Senator, Charles Schumer, in another statement explicitly referred to Bitcoin as a “surrogate currency” that enabled criminal activities. These observations and a host of others goes to confirm the that the nature of cryptocurrencies make them well suited for a host of nefarious activities such as money laundering, tax evasion, drug trafficking etc.

Approach to Crypto-currencies in Nigeria

The global financial system is no doubt embracing the current transition from physical currency to almost virtual currencies through the medium of technology. This wave has ushered in the birth of crypto-currencies. In the light of this outbreak, there has been a lot of positive and negative discourse on the value of crypto-currencies to the Nigerian fiscal system. Investors have in their masses invested in crypto-currencies, the most common being Bitcoins all in a bid to some sort of recoup interests in the nearest future. Over time the awareness that bitcoins like most crypto-currencies operates independently and outside the control or regulation of any intermediaries such as banks, financial institutions, or the government triggered a wake-up call directed to the risks investors may be exposed to when involved in this venture.

Relatively, the Nigeria government has attempted to place a ban on crypto-currency, although its legal status remains ambiguous unlike in countries like Morocco and Algeria where there is a clear ban on trading in Bitcoins such that a breach attracts heavy fines.

One of the actions taken by the Nigerian government is by issuing very strong notices about the pitfalls of investing in the crypto-currency markets. Such warnings were issued by the Central Bank (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The warnings are largely designed to educate the citizenry about the difference between actual currencies; which are issued and guaranteed by the state, and crypto-currencies; which are not. The government also added the risk resulting from the high volatility associated with crypto-currencies and the fact that many of the organizations that facilitate such transactions are unregulated. It was also emphasised that citizens who invest in crypto-currencies do so at their own peril and personal risk and that no legal recourse is available to them in the event of loss.

The various warnings issued also projects the opportunities that crypto-currencies create for illegal activities, such as money laundering and terrorism, illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking, and support for radical movements. In January 2017, the CBN issued a statement banning any transactions in Bitcoins, this was carried out by the banks’ regulator circulating a statement to all banks in the country warning them against facilitating the trading of Bitcoins in the country. The CBN stated that traders risked losing all their money when they trade in a currency that is not regulated. This risk is largely associated to the volatile nature of crypto-currencies. However, a lot did not heed to this warning as most crypto-currency exchanges continued to operate as usual.

The Nigeria’s SEC also made a statement in 2017 warning Bitcoin traders to exercise extreme caution. Again in March, 2018, the CBN reiterated its stance on crypto-currencies warning traders that digital assets are a mere gamble.

The trade in crypto-currency is not extinguished despite the series of warnings, the CBN however took decisive steps by having an organized committee to review and articulate a road map for blockchain and crypto-currency regulation as well as the possible safety when used as an asset of value and in line with global practices.

Like most African  countries, the legislation regulating crypto-currency in Nigeria is below par and inadequate to cater to the needs of the crytpo-currency world.

Existing laws relating to Crypto-currency in Nigeria

It is clear that there is a great gap between the regulatory framework regulating the use and trade of crypto-currency in Nigeria. It is however, imperative to analyze the laws in Nigeria that have provisions which would apply to crypto-currency as a currency in Nigeria.

  • The Cyber-crime Act

The Cyber-crime Act is an act which came into existence to check the rising use of the internet for illegal purposes. It seeks to identify and punish crimes committed with computers and the internet and reduce the level of fraud perpetuated with the use of the internet.

The Cyber-crime Act prohibits Computer related forgery, computer related fraud and identity theft and impersonation. The Act provides a punishment of not less than three years imprisonment and/or N7,000,000 fine.

These provisions relate to the use of crypto-currency in the sense that where in the process of any crypto-currency based transactions, a person contravenes any of these provisions, the person shall be guilty of an offence under the Cyber-crime Act.

  • The EFCC Act

The EFCC Act is the legislation that regulates the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which is a commission created to investigate and prosecute economic and financial crimes in Nigeria. The EFCC Act prohibits the acquisition and use of illegally obtained products and funds. It also prohibits the control and possession of illegally obtained funds. The punishments specified under the Act range from fines to imprisonment for life.

Despite these provisions, there is a great gap in the legal framework relating to crypto-currency. The crypto-currency world is a new innovation and as such, requires specific regulations that cater to the special nature of it. It is very important for a legislation that takes in the uniqueness of crypto-currency to be created. These provisions do the bare minimum and leave a lot of gaps to be exploited.

Regulatory challenges

Certain regulatory challenges pertaining to crypto-currency confront regulators. One is the definition/categorization challenge which arises because crypto-currencies combine properties of currencies, commodities, capital assets, security, and payments systems and their classification as one or the other will often have or attract varying legal implications and tax treatment. As stated earlier, the problem of classification as either commodity or currency deters its easy regulation. Another challenge is the global reach of crypto-currencies arising from their decentralized and digital nature. Other challenges include difficulty in monitoring and strong connection with crimes like money laundering and terrorist financing. These regulatory issues have tampered with the establishment of crypto-currency as legal tender in many jurisdictions. This, in turn, has affected their growth and dampened public perception on the currency which is critical for the growth of the crypto-currency system.

There are legal issues associated with almost every financial activity in the world and crypto currency is not an exception. The peculiarity of the currency no doubt has contributed to the difficulties associated with its regulation globally. Every new technology is pre-destined to suffer legal setbacks, from mainstream acceptance to misuse and abuse. In 2018 alone, it was reported that £4 billion was laundered via crypto-currencies in Europe. An increase in this special brand of money laundering and other cybercrimes has a negative impact on the crypto-market, as investors lose confidence to invest their money into the market.

Conclusion

A call for governmental introduction of a distinctive anti-money laundering regulations and data recoverability regulations is therefore eminent, considering the technological advancement in the use of crypto-currencies. The ability to uncloak masked transactions in the crypto-world is vital to reducing the associated legal risks, ensuring accountability and eliminating frauds. As earlier observed, some countries have taken notable steps in expanding their laws on money laundering, counter-terrorism, and organized crime to include crypto-currency markets, thereby requiring banks and other financial institutions to conduct all necessary due diligence requirements imposed under such laws.

With these evolving global trends in the financial sector, Nigeria’s financial regulatory institutions have taken the initiative of developing a robust financial system and regulation that will accommodate the current tech. This paper concludes that in spite of the imminent abuse associated with trading in crypto-currency, it should not be condemned in its totality; rather stringent national and global regulations should be put in place in curbing its misuse.

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Artificial Intelligence and Law…

By Abdullah Abdurrahman Esq & Amachundi A. David, Esq

Introduction. 

Artificial Intelligence is not a myth. The Oxford Dictionary defines Artificial Intelligence as a computer system able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence. This is why artificial intelligence has emerged in every area and subject which was considered exclusive to human intelligence. We humans refer to ourselves as Homo sapiens due to our mental capacities. We have tried to understand how we think; that is, how a mere handful of cells and organs can perceive, understand, predict, and manipulate a world far larger and more complex than itself. The field of artificial intelligence, or AI, goes further still as it attempts to go beyond merely understanding to building intelligent entities. Artificial Intelligence encompasses a variety of subfields which range from general purpose areas i.e. learning specific tasks such as playing chess, proving mathematical theorems, diagnosing diseases and writing of poetry. Artificial Intelligence methodically automates intellectual tasks which makes it relevant in any intellectual human activity. It is noteworthy that artificial intelligence has been defined from the practical perspective by some authors. In this vein, the definitions have emphasised on systems which think like humans, think rationally, act like humans and act rationally. According to Haugeland, artificial intelligence is ‘the exciting new effort to make computers think . . . machines with minds, in the full and literal sense.’ Further, it entails the automation of activities that we associate with human thinking, activities such as decision-making, problem solving, and learning according to Bellman. These definitions of artificial intelligence emphasised on systems that think like humans.

Subsequently, authors like Winston and Charniak and McDermott defined artificial intelligence emphasising on systems that think rationally. In this regard, artificial intelligence is ‘the study of mental faculties through the use of computational models’ and further ‘the study of the computations that make it possible to perceive, reason, and act.’ Further, in defining artificial intelligence with emphasis on systems that act like humans, Rich and Knight stated that it is ‘the study of how to make computers do things at which, at the moment, people are better’ while Kurzweil10 defined the concept as ‘the art of creating machines that perform functions that require intelligence when performed by people.’

Finally, with emphasis on systems that act rationally, Poole et al11 viewed artificial intelligence/computational intelligence as the study of the design of intelligent agents while according to Nilsson, artificial intelligence is concerned with intelligent behavior  in artifacts.

Based on the foregoing definitions, it can be gleaned that artificial intelligence is aimed at problem solving, decision making, facilitating learning, research and the performance of given tasks among others. This is achieved by adopting the model of human intellect which will require practical knowledge of neuro-science, biology, information technology among others.

 Brief Historical Overview of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has a history which dates back to more than half of the last century. Artificial intelligence is one of the newest sciences which commenced immediately after World War II. It is noteworthy that the name artificial intelligence was coined in 1956. Etymologically, there are two periods in the history of artificial intelligence which are the early and later periods The early period was between 19551980 while the later period was between 1985-2010. During the early period, the focus was on tasks that humans found difficult to perform such as chess, geometry, physics and so on.  During this era, remarkable success was recorded introducing artificial intelligence to the aforementioned tasks. The later period was characterised by focus on easy human tasks which were nearly impossible for computer systems.15 Further, two eras (the 1980’s and 1990’s) emerged. In the 1980’s, it was apparent that computers lacked common sense of the world. According to historical facts, it was not easy to give same to the computers in the same way that high level, expert knowledge of a specific domain is given. Subsequently, in the 1990’s, situation and embodied artificial intelligence (SEAI) emerged and was recognised as a prospective low path to intelligence. Therefore, computers will only acquire common sense about the world by experiencing it and having to survive in it.

It is a fact that contemporarily, scientists in other disciplines frequently cite artificial intelligence as the field most people would like to be in. This is because unlike other fields which are almost fully researched and developed, enormous opportunities for further innovative research, findings and prospects abound in artificial intelligence.

Further, artificial intelligence consists of broad and various subfields which range from general or multi-purpose areas such as learning and perception, to specific or particular tasks such as playing chess, proving mathematical theorems, writing poetry and diagnosing diseases. The utilitarian value of artificial intelligence makes for systematisation and automation of intellectual tasks. Hence, artificial intelligence is potentially relevant to any field of human endeavor and intellectual activity. In this vein, the foregoing makes artificial intelligence a practically universal field.

Developments in Artificial Intelligence.       

The fact has been stated that artificial intelligence is a broad field with a universal outlook and application. Further, it is applied to a lot of things which include the following:

  1. Problem Solving and Planning: This deals with systematic refinement of goal hierarchy, plan revision mechanisms and a focused search of important goals;
  2. Expert Systems: This deals with knowledge processing and complex decisionmaking problems;
  3. Natural Language Processing: Areas such as automatic text generation, text processing, machine translation, speech synthesis and analysis, grammar and style analysis of text among others come under this category;
  4. Robotics: This deals with the controlling of robots to manipulate or grasp objects and using information from sensors to guide actions among other things;
  5. Computer Vision: This topic deals with intelligent visualisation, scene analysis, image understanding and processing and motion derivation;
  6. Learning: This topic deals with research and development in different forms of machine learning;
  7. Genetic Algorithms: These are adaptive algorithms which have inherent learning capability. They are used in search, machine learning and optimisation; and
  8. Neural Networks: This topic deals with simulation of learning in the human brain by combining pattern recognition tasks, deductive reasoning and numerical computations.

Further, artificial intelligence is applicable to several areas which include the following; Autonomous Planning and Scheduling, Game Playing, Autonomous Control, Diagnosis, Logistics Planning, Robotics, Language Understanding and Problem Solving.

Finding a Sustainable Synergy and Prospects for Nigeria.

Artificial Intelligence has become quite a hot topic. There are flashy news stories about creative machines, self-driving cars, robots which can hold complex and extensive conversations amongst other inventions. The recent popularisation of Artificial Intelligence has also made us aware of the fact that humans are no longer the only source of creative works.  Artificial Intelligence is necessary in Nigeria, where the amount of data we deal with has grown exponentially and the increase in this data in law means more time spent in analysing data. This can be observed in our ever growing judicial precedents and countless volumes of law reports. As grey areas in the law are constantly being developed every day. The good news is that Artificial Intelligence and advances in machine learning have enabled software to complete data-intensive tasks and recognise patterns in data. There are several benefits of using artificial intelligence in legal practice in Nigeria the first being the most important metric in business which is to generate higher revenue. It has been established by several reports that businesses that invest in artificial intelligence have seen results that are translated into increased revenue.

Another major advantage of artificial intelligence is over we humans. Artificial Intelligence produces more accurate and higher quality work because it can work faster and longer, neither does it get distracted thereby producing more with fewer error in its work. One of the most talked about benefits of artificial intelligence in law is that it saves time. This is because computers are much faster than humans in processing certain types of information. Computers find and fix errors in documents, conduct legal research and analyse documents for errors, gaps in information and inconsistent language. Some of the tasks that artificial intelligence can accomplish includes document review, proofreading, and legal research which can be tedious and mind-numbing for lawyers. Allowing a software to do these lower-level jobs reduces lawyers’ stress and lets them focus on creative work, intellectual analysis, and strategic problem-solving. The end result is that they are happier and suffer less from stress and burnout. Artificial Intelligence has the less obvious benefit of allowing lawyers more time to talk to clients and develop deeper relationships with them. They are able to keep clients better informed and spend more time explaining their legal strategy. In addition, artificial intelligence lets them achieve better results in their work and leads to greater client satisfaction.

Artificial Intelligence also has the potential to make the discovery phase of the litigation process proceed more quickly. Since this can be one of the most timeconsuming aspects of a case, these systems could potentially help parties resolve their disputes more quickly throughout any arbitration or litigation. This momentum has picked up pace in Nigerian practice as LawPavilion Business Solutions, the foremost legal technologies company in Nigeria is set to release Nigeria’s first Artificial Intelligence Legal Assistant, Case Analytics and Practice/Case Management Software into their legal software solutions. According to the Managing Director, Ope Olugasa he declared that Artificial Intelligence is having broad and significant impacts across a variety of industries. “Lawyers and the legal profession should not be left out in this new wave that bears many benefits. Today, in developed countries of the world, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is beginning to transform the legal profession in many ways as lawyers are already using AI to do things like reviewing documents, ensuring compliance, which is a very front burner issue for multinationals and transnationals, analysing contracts to determine whether they meet predetermined criteria, performing legal research and predicting case outcomes.” Further, he stated that “Our AI is called ‘TIMI’, which is a Chabot for now, with more complex implementations coming shortly. It works like a consultant that lawyers can chat with. It converses with you and helps you get things done faster. It has been programmed to walk the user through the Civil Procedure Rules of Nigeria Courts.”

He further stated that “We are starting with the Civil Procedure Rules because from our research, as a foremost Law Reporting Company in Nigeria, we have come to realize that 48 percent of the cases in the Appellate Courts are not based on the substantive suit; but on procedural issues. This means that a lot of lawyers are erring on the side of procedures in Court, which is chiefly governed by the Civil Procedure Rules of the various Courts. TIMI has been developed to ensure that its users never again err on the side of procedure.”26

Another practical area artificial intelligence is making strides in the legal profession is through the introduction of virtual law firms. Virtual law firms are on the rise especially in developed countries such as the United States and the Britain. Artificial Intelligence can take the concept of virtual law firms to the future wherein attorneys and clients need not meet or even be in the same jurisdiction. This was essence when a law firm Riverview Law partnered with the computer science department at the University of Liverpool. In which it launched Kim, a virtual assistant designed to help legal teams make quicker and better decisions. Karl Chapman, Riverview chief executive, says Kim features includes being able to suggest the best order in which to renegotiate a series of corporate contracts.

However, due to the rapidly advancing area of artificial intelligence and legal practice, there is the need for a holistic and comprehensive legal and regulatory framework for this area of expertise. Artificial Intelligence is developing fast and needs to be regulated as there is little or nothing on the regulation of Artificial Intelligence in the world and Nigeria particularly. The European Union is currently trying to ensure that a new category of persons ‘electronic persons’ are created to cater for artificial intelligence and robots. This is laudable as it will create a platform to attribute rights and obligations to Artificial Intelligence. The National Office of Technology Acquisition Promotion (NOTAP) Act is currently the basic regulation of new technology in Nigeria and it only deals with the registration and contractual nature of foreign technology. This legislation is in need of a review as it is too skeletal to regulate the constant evolving nature of technology and artificial intelligence. Another issue which necessitates the need for regulation is the fact that Artificial Intelligence is displacing a lot of workers as AI systems can now perform functions which were performed by a handful of humans. One industry which has witnessed this takeover is the banking industry. Most banking functions are now performed by machines and according to a McKinsey study from late 2017, up to 800 million workers worldwide may lose their jobs to AI by 2030 in the global banking industry. This definitely raises the need for intervention of the law to bridge the potential gap that a shift to AI might cause.

Conclusion. 

From the foregoing, it can be concluded that there is the need for a synergy of artificial intelligence and legal practice in Nigeria as the two concepts can be combined to take legal practice to a whole new level and reflect global best practices and standards. The combination of both concepts can yield higher productivity and better results. It is noted that the lack of a comprehensive regulatory and legal framework for artificial intelligence is a gaping hole in the realisation of this sustainable synergy between both concepts. That notwithstanding, there exists some level of synergy which is limited to legal research and practice as seen with LawPavilion. However, there is a need for expansion of artificial intelligence into other areas of legal practice in Nigeria. Consequent to the foregoing, there will be need for dynamic laws regulating same. Further, there has been concerns over artificial intelligence displacing a lot of workers in the legal and non-legal market thereby leading to higher levels of unemployment especially in the banking sector. Therefore, policy makers and regulators need to take proactive steps in order to prevent mass loss of jobs in the legal market which characterised the banking industry. This can however be regulated and the concern for massive job losses curbed by a holistic and comprehensive legal and regulatory framework aimed at the enhancement and promotion of a sustainable synergy between artificial intelligence and the legal practice.

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eCommerce Tips for conducting business online.

eCommerce (also known as ‘electronic commerce’) refers to business conducted online. At one time, the term included only web businesses such as Amazon and Travelocity that transferred a real world paradigm – buying books or booking flights — to the Internet. But heading into the second decade of the 21st Century, practically all business is conducted online in some way and eCommerce includes a wide range of subject matter, whether it’s downloading an app, clicking on an adword at a blog, licensing content from iStockphoto, or purchasing a legal form. In fact it’s hard to imagine a business without some eCommerce element. In this section we look at all of the legal issues affecting eCommerce 2.0.

Website Law

If you want your website to succeed, you’ll need to understand basic legal and business principles.

If you want your website to succeed — whether you are creating a simple two-page online shop for a local jeweler or a thousand page site for a Fortune 500 company — you’ll need to understand basic legal and business principles. This section provides the basics for developers and those who contract for website development with a focus on contracting, intellectual property and the patchwork variety of website related laws and regulations.

Website Terms and Conditions

Posting legal notices on your website.

Many sites post “terms and conditions” somewhere on the site. Do you need them, too? If you have anything more than a small, information-only site, you probably do, covering topics like copyright, returns, and limiting your liability.

Refunds, Returns, and Losses

If your site sells products, you may need notices regarding credit card use, refunds, and returns (known as “transaction conditions”). For example, you might want to announce that your business will accept returns up to 30 days after purchase.

You may also want to include disclaimers — statements that inform customers that you won’t be liable for certain kinds of losses that might incur. For example, you may disclaim responsibility for losses that result if pottery breaks when a customer ships it back for return.

Privacy Policy

If you are gathering information from your customers, including credit card information, you should post a privacy policy detailing how this information will be used or not used. Yahoo!’s privacy policy ( http://privacy.yahoo.com) is a good example of a broad, easy-to-understand policy.

You can check out other policies by typing “privacy policy” in a search engine. Pick and choose the elements that apply to your site. Whatever policy you adopt, be consistent, and if you are going to change it, make an effort to notify your customers of the change.

Limiting Your Liability

If your site provides space for chats or postings from the Web-surfing public, you’ll want to limit your liability from offensive or libelous postings or similar chat room comments. There are three things you can do:

  • Monitor postings. Regularly review all postings and promptly take down those you think are offensive or libelous.
  • Remove suspect postings. If asked to remove a posting by a third party, remove it while you investigate. If you determine — after speaking with an attorney — that you are entitled to keep the post, then you can put it back up.
  • Include a disclaimer. Your disclaimer should explain you don’t endorse and aren’t responsible for the accuracy or reliability of statements made by third parties. This won’t shield you from claims, but it may minimize your financial damages if you’re involved in a lawsuit over the posting.

Copyright Notices

Regardless of what your site does, you should include notices regarding copyright and trademark — for example “Copyright © 2006 RichandAndrea.com” or “Cyzuki is a trademark of Cynthia Lloyd.”

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How to Make Your Business Green

Businesses interested in going green have many resources available to help them out.

A famous frog once sang, “It’s not easy being green;” but today’s small businesses have many resources available to them on how to have a green business. You do not need to be large corporation to integrate green business practices. In fact, green strategies can attract consumers to your goods and services, save your business money and spiff up your company’s image while improving the quality of the environment for all of us.

Both the Small Business Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency provide a great deal of helpful information on green ideas for small and medium-sized businesses. It may seem simplistic, but being green may start first with taking small resource-saving steps and then sticking with them on a regular basis. Here are several practical suggestions to help you begin to have a green business.

1. Undertake an energy audit of your business

Small businesses use about half the energy resources in the country. Many businesses may not be aware of how much money they are losing through energy inefficiencies. An energy audit may reveal ways in which your business is paying for wasted water, electric, and heating and cooling system resources.

To start off energy companies will often provide free checklists for energy self-assessments. For commercial audits, no and low-cost audits are often available. In addition, if you work from home, many local energy companies will provide a free home energy audit. Check with your local power company to begin evaluating your energy needs and uses.

2. Institute a company-wide conservation program

So many items we dispose of today can be recycled or reused rather than shipped off to a local landfill. Your program could be a combination of resource conservation, recycling, and donation.

Examine how your company uses paper, ink cartridges, metals, plastics, electronic equipment, and other company assets and determine how to trim or make more effective uses and reuses of these items. Instead of printing off digital messages, why not store them electronically or print them out on both sides of a sheet of paper? Explore greener supply and packaging options with your vendors. Consider recycling or donating older, serviceable equipment to nonprofits and educational programs rather than simply disposing of these items. “Crowdsource” your conservation policies by asking your employees, customers, and suppliers for their ideas on ways to preserve resources.

3. Turn it down or shut it off

About a quarter of your office’s electrical costs are spent on lighting, so turn off lights when leaving a room. Look to see when natural lighting or dimmer lighting may be preferable to standard lighting. Consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. Install light timers or motion sensors to suit your fluctuating needs.

You might also be surprised to learn that about seventy-five percent of the electricity used to power your office equipment is eaten up when these machines are off. Try to use Energy Star® rated office equipment that can save energy by putting your machines in “sleep mode” when they are not in use during the day. Shut off office equipment, including computers and power strips, at the end of the day, to stop the overnight drain on electrical resources.

4. Avoid wasting water down the drain

Many business leaders consider water scarcity to be a major obstacle for future business continuity and growth world-wide. Water use has increased two times faster than population growth. With recent heat waves and droughts across the U.S., your business can help conserve limited water resources while saving money in several ways.

Fix leaky faucets as slow dripping ones can waste up to 34 gallons per year while fast ones can waste over 170 gallons in a year. Install faucet aerators to reduce your water consumption. Turn the temperature of your water heater down to the lowest level necessary to meet your business needs. In addition, that running toilet is more than a nuisance; it is a pricey water guzzler. Repair a running toilet and think about investing in low water volume toilets for more water savings.

5. Conserve heating and cooling system resources

Similar to lighting and water, heating and cooling systems can result in expensive, recurring operational costs. The use of programmable thermostats will modulate your energy uses to suit your business needs.

Clean or replace HVAC filters routinely so your systems are running more efficiently. Inspect and repair weather-stripping around windows, doors, and electrical outlets to avoid heat and cool air loss. Shades, blinds, and other window coverings may help keep your business cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Think about using fans rather than air conditioning at certain times of the year.

These measures may seem insignificant, but these inefficiencies add up over time, costing you money and harming our environment. The EPA also provides helpful information to businesses on indoor air quality issues.

6. Properly maintain, repair and/or replace business equipment

It is important to adequately maintain and repair business machinery. Running equipment that has not undergone routine maintenance or is in need of repair damages the machinery, wastes energy resources and may endanger your health and safety. In some circumstances, it may make sense to replace older assets with newer energy efficient equipment which can save your business money in the long term while preserving energy resources.

If you are thinking about upgrading your business machinery, the Small Business Administration provides a portal with links to governmental agencies that may be able to provide your business with tax incentives and environmental loans and grants. Your state government may offer similar options so it is worth investigating any local programs aiding your transition to more energy-efficient options.

7. Reduce commuting and business-related travel

Transportation of people and goods accounts for approximately 28.5 percent of all energy resources consumed in the country. Over 80 percent of fuel resources are consumed through travel on local roads and highways. Air travel and other forms of transportation only account for about 19.5 percent of our transportation energy resources. Aside from using energy resources, jet fuel and car gasoline pollute the air with similar CO2 emissions—nearly 20 lbs. per gallon of fuel.

Businesses can help shrink energy consumption, lower travel expenses, and improve air quality through reductions in commuting and business-related travel. Certain jobs may be effectively handled through full- or part-time telecommuting with employees working from home rather than driving to work. Employers might also offer incentives to employees who utilize public transportation or form carpools for their daily commute. Long-distance air and car travel and their attendant expenses could be decreased through the use of teleconferencing options.

8. Comply with Existing Environmental Laws and Regulations

Clearly, compliance with existing environmental laws and regulations is required for any business, and more so for a business that wishes to tout its green credentials in the marketplace. Every industry may have different legal obligations to address on a local, state, and federal basis.

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The tweet that launched #BringBackOurGirls

For weeks, the plight of more than 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped and trafficked by Islamist terrorists drew little attention internationally. A Nigerian lawyer’s tweet marked the starting point of a now global campaign.

Michelle Obama, Holding a #BringBackOurGirls sign

Casual news readers could be excused for assuming it was just last week when the now highly publicized kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian school girls took place. That’s when reports of their abduction began leading news coverage, a full three weeks after the crime occurred in the night beginning April 14.

It’s thanks in large part to an initially uncoordinated campaign launched by local Nigerian activists that the girls’ disappearance didn’t continue to fly under the radar at major news providers. The campaign began on April 23 with a single tweet by Nigerian lawyer Ibrahim M. Abdullahi, the first to use the now viral #BringBackOurGirls tag, amid what he calls “complete dissatisfaction” with his government’s response to the incident.

As Abdullahi watched a live address on that date by former Nigerian Minister of Education Obiageli Ezekwesili, he tweeted a phrase she used as follows: “Yes #BringBackOurDaughters #BringBackOurGirls declared by @obyezeks and all people at Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014.”

The lawyer and activist tells DW it is a “great joy” and “heartwarming to know that [the campaign] has gone so global,” as #BringBackOurGirls today nears three million uses on Twitter since April 23. In the Nigerian capital of Abuja, Abdullahi says a group of around 20 campaign volunteers has expanded into more than 100 individuals. They meet daily to monitor progress on finding the girls and follow how the viral campaign is developing.
Breakthrough one week later

The former education minister whom Abdullahi originally quoted was among the first to lend steam to the campaign, retweeting his comment hours later and encouraging her followers to “use the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls to keep the momentum UNTIL they are RESCUED.”

Their joint appeal on April 23 had an impact. In the following week, Twitter users, primarily in Nigeria, began using the hashtag thousands of times per day to draw attention to the girls’ plight.

The first breakthrough in the campaign’s popularity came on April 30, when Twitter references to #BringBackOurGirls shot up to well over 100,000 in a single day.

The reporting of new details on the case as well as celebrity support could explain that sudden jump. News reports emerged, citing information from the missing girls’ families and local villagers, that at least some of the abducted had been sold off as child brides for sums of around $12. Around the same time, prominent Twitter accounts associated with Pakistani Taliban victim Malala Yousafzai, UNICEF and celebrities such as Mary J. Blige and Chris Brown began tweeting the tag.

By May 7, just after #BringBackOurGirls had been tweeted one million times in total, US First Lady Michelle Obama lent her support to the campaign via Twitter. She took over the president’s weekly address on Saturday (10.05.2014) to express being “outraged and heartbroken” at the crime in Nigeria.

One day later, on March 11, British Prime Minister David Cameron similarly offered backing to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, pledging in a television interview that Britain “will do what we can” to recover the abductees.

Familiar criticisms

Meanwhile, familiar criticisms have emerged when it comes to activism on social media. Some have argued the gestures on Twitter and elsewhere are often rooted in vanity. Others have dismissed them as a superficial approach to the complex problems associated with the power of the Boko Haram Islamist group, which has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings in Nigeria.

Sudanese-born writer and journalist Nesrine Malik tweeted last week that Western countries were already turning inward to reflect on what their response to the incident says about themselves, quipping that there are similarities with the five stages of grief.
But Abdullahi, whose tweet marked the beginning of the campaign and who continues to work on its development, says he believes the massive international response on Twitter has had at least limited success in changing the Nigerian government’s course.

“Initially, the government didn’t even want to talk about it, but now the government has come out now to say that it wants to do something – even though not at the rate or the speed we want it to act,” he told DW.

One positive result, he says, is that Nigerian leaders have expressed openness to assistance from other nations in terms of intelligence and technology that might help recover the girls. That doesn’t mean Abdullahi is now satisfied with the official response, though. He reports that #BringBackOurGirls volunteers in Abuja faced pressure from the police yesterday during their daily meeting and fears similar reactions going forward.

Link   http://www.dw.de/the-tweet-that-launched-bringbackourgirls/a-17630568

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Estates, Executors & Probate Court

What Does an Executor Do?

Settling an estate, in or out of probate court.

It’s both an honor and a burden to serve as someone’s executor. An executor is entrusted with responsibility for winding up someone’s earthly affairs — a big or little task, depending on the situation. Essentially, an executor is charged with protecting a deceased person’s property until all debts and taxes have been paid, and seeing that what’s left is transferred to the people who are entitled to it.

The law does not require an executor (also called a personal representative) to be a legal or financial expert, but it does require the highest degree of honesty, impartiality, and diligence. This is called a “fiduciary duty” — the duty to act with scrupulous good faith and honesty on behalf of someone else.

Executors have a number of duties, depending on the complexity of the deceased person’s financial and family circumstances. Typically, an executor must:

  • Find the deceased person’s assets and manage them until they are distributed to inheritors. This may involve deciding whether to sell real estate or securities owned by the deceased person.
  • Decide whether or not probate court proceedings are needed. Most jointly owned assets pass to the surviving owner, without probate. And if the deceased person’s property is worth less than a certain amount (how much depends on state law), it may be able to go through a streamlined probate process. (To learn more about probate, see Probate FAQ.)
  • Figure out who inherits property. If the deceased person left a will, the executor will read it to determine who gets what. If there’s no will, the person in charge (sometimes called the administrator) will have to look at state law (called “intestate succession” statutes) to find out who the deceased person’s heirs are.
  • File the will (if any) in the local probate court. Generally, this step is required by law, even if no probate proceeding will be necessary. To learn more about this process, see Nolo’s article Finding and Filing the Will.
  • Handle day-to-day details. This may include terminating leases and credit cards, and notifying banks and government agencies — such as the Social Security Administration, the post office, Medicare, and the Department of Veterans Affairs — of the death.
  • Set up an estate bank account. This account will hold money that is owed to the deceased person — for example, paychecks or stock dividends.
  • Use estate funds to pay continuing expenses. The executor may need to pay, for example, utility bills, mortgage payments, and homeowner’s insurance premiums.
  • Pay debts. If there is a probate proceeding, the executor must officially notify creditors of it, following the procedure set out by state law. For help with this process, see Nolo’s eForm Notice to Creditor of Death.
  • Pay taxes. A final income tax return must be filed, covering the period from the beginning of the tax year to the date of death. State and federal estate tax returns are required only for large estates.
  • Supervise the distribution of the deceased person’s property. The property will go to the people or organizations named in the will or those entitled to inherit under state law.

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Unemployment Benefits: What If You’re Fired?

To collect unemployment benefits, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. Workers who are laid off for economic reasons — due to a plant closing, a reduction-in-force (RIF), or because of lack of work, for example — are eligible for unemployment benefits. But employees who are fired are not always eligible for unemployment, at least not right away. It depends on the reasons why the employee was fired.

State law determines whether a fired employee can collect unemployment. Generally speaking, an employee who is fired for serious misconduct is ineligible for benefits, either entirely or for a certain period of time (often called a “disqualification period”). But the definition of misconduct varies from state to state.

In many states, an employee’s misconduct has to be pretty bad to render the employee ineligible for unemployment benefits. An employee who is fired for being a poor fit for the job, lacking the necessary skills for the position, or failing to perform up to expected standards will likely be able to collect unemployment. But an employee who acts intentionally or recklessly against the employer’s interests will likely be ineligible for unemployment benefits. Other states take a harder line, finding that employees who are fired for violating a workplace policy or rule won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits, at least for a period of time.

Here are some of the types of misconduct that might render an employee ineligible to collect unemployment benefits:

  • Failing a drug or alcohol test. In many states, an employee who is fired for failing a drug or alcohol test will not be able to collect unemployment benefits. Refusing to submit to testing is also a disqualifying event in some states.
  • Theft. An employee who is fired for stealing from the company or from coworkers will most likely be ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.
  • Committing a crime. An employee who commits a crime connected with the job — such as assaulting a coworker, driving under the influence while on company business, or destroying valuable company property — will almost certainly be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Violating safety rules. An employee who makes a careless mistake may still be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, but an employee who willfully or intentionally disregards important safety rules will probably be disqualified from collecting benefits.

Even if you are disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because of why you were fired, that disqualification may not last forever. In some states, being fired for misconduct renders an employee ineligible for unemployment benefits, period. In those states, until the employee gets another job, works there long enough to meet the state’s earnings and/or work tenure requirements, and then becomes unemployed again, that employee will not be able to collect unemployment benefits. But in other states, an employee who has been fired for misconduct is ineligible for unemployment benefits only for a set period of time, particularly if the misconduct is less egregious. In other words, a penalty is imposed on the employee, but he or she may become eligible for unemployment benefits once the disqualification period ends

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