Recently, I decided to take up a matter of public interest to provide legal representation for persons who have been bedevilled by the untoward and offensive conducts of Loan Sharks who have whimsically taken hold of Small and Medium scale businesses in Nigeria.
Contrary to my expectation that this situation would only affect a few numbers of Nigerians, I can confirm that till date I have received several mails in excess of Six Thousand requests and appeals all seeking help and deliverance from the stranglehold of these loan shacks on their lives, families and businesses.
More appalling is the records of persons whom these Loan Sharks have so frustrated to the point of resorting to take their own lives. This reality has contributed abysmally to the increasing spate of suicide recorded within the space of the last three years.
However, in order to properly attend to all the lamentations and cry for help of fellow Nigerians who have seen hell in the hands of these moneylending entities, I have embarked on a diligent search of these companies and proceeded further to scrutinize their legal personality status as well as their compliance with extant laws granting them license to operate in a moneylending capacity and I have found from my preliminary research that most of these companies operate like shell edifices: not properly registered and also not possessing the requisite registered business address for their activities.
In fact, it is safe to state without fear of contradiction that most of these companies exist merely online and have avoided physical discovery as much as possible. Some of their staff have in fact informed us that their Managements forbade them from disclosing their actual addresses to anyone.
It is also notably difficult to ascertain that these businesses are properly registered as there is little evidence of any form of registration or regulatory compliance with extant Laws. This begs the question, to what extent do these companies or businesses lawfully exist or pursue their money lending businesses within the precinct of the law? To answer this question, we have commenced the profiling of each and every one of these companies that have been reported to us so far.
To expedite our response system, I have taken it a notch higher by involving other likeminded colleagues who are equally committed to bring about positive change to work with on these briefs. However, it is obvious nothing can be achieved without proper engagement of key government institutions and regulatory bodies to sufficiently project this situation and find an all-encompassing policy driven approach which would then check the draconian shylock-styled methodology of these loan sharks.
It is also important to state that these online loan companies took advantage of the poverty in the country, policy vacuum and the lack of adequate social support programs for the masses by government to operate and visit wickedness on the people as most of the loans taken are bellow twenty five thousand naira. It therefore behoves on government to put in place a proper and workable system to serve the needs of majority of Nigerians who have small businesses and are inevitably in need of access to small soft loans with reasonable terms and interests thereby easing off their vulnerability to loan sharks offers.
It is unavoidably true that the continued event of the activities of these loan sharks without mincing words is a result of policy failure of the government to bridge the poverty gap in society as applicable in other countries by putting in place soft landing mechanisms which are the necessary systems for citizens to access these small loans, mostly less than 50, 000.00 (Fifty Thousand Naira) but which upon default, due to the unreasonable interest rates and Punitive Daily Overdue Charges, increase sometimes to Millions of Naira, thereby putting the poor borrower in perpetual fear and at the mercies of these loan sharks, sometimes throws the borrowers into depression and suicide.
I am confident that this will not continue for much longer. We have commenced work and we are committed to fight the course of all Nigerians concerned and held down from becoming their fullest potentials because of the ordeal they are facing in the hands of these loan sharks. We will apply the law to re-engineer the situation and bring about lasting results. I am grateful to all who have committed themselves to join me in this noble cause. I give my assurance that we will see this to a positive end.
Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq.