Overseas Business Risk – Nigeria

Information on key security and political risks which UK businesses may face when operating in Nigeria.

Political and Economic

More information on political risk, including political demonstrations is available in FCO Travel Advice.

Human Rights

Nigeria has ratified the majority of international human rights legislation and generally takes a positive role in international fora.  Much of that ratified legislation is incorporated into domestic law – however for a range of reasons implementation is often weak.

The Nigerian government has adopted International Labour Organisation conventions that set a minimum age of 16 for children working in dangerous occupations, and a general prohibition on the employment of children under the age of 14.  However, it is estimated that 15 million children under the age of 14 work in Nigeria.  Most child employment occurs in the informal sector of the economy and many work in hazardous conditions.

The law allows all Nigerians to belong to a trade union and engage in collective bargaining. The trade union movement is generally strong, however, there are a number of restrictions placed on the right to form unions and the right to strike faces some limitations.  There is a national minimum wage of 18’000 Naira per month however implementation has been slow in many states.  Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt and hence a large number of employees are not protected by this law.

Homosexuality is unacceptable to the majority of Nigerians and human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people occur.  Legislation is currently passing through the National Assembly that would seek to further criminalise same sex relationships with harsh prison sentences.

Northern Nigeria faces a serious threat from terrorism, however the government response to increasing violence has met with criticism from international human rights organisations Amnesty International and Human Rights watch whose recent reports highlighted cases of alleged extra judicial killing, torture and unlawful detention.

Bribery and Corruption

Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world.

In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.

In 2012, Nigeria was ranked 139 out of 176 countries Transparency International’s Corruption Index (CPI).

Visit the Business Anti-Corruption portalpage providing advice and guidance about corruption in Nigeria and some basic effective procedures you can establish to protect your company from them.

Read the information provided on our Bribery and corruption page.

Terrorism Threat

There is a high threat from terrorism in Nigeria. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including government, security and educational institutions, international organisations as well as public venues and areas such as restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres, places of worship and other areas frequented by expatriates, foreign tourists and business travellers.

The main terrorist threat is from Islamist extremists who aspire to establish Islamic law in northern Nigeria. The majority of attacks occur in Borno State and Yobe State, but the last year has seen a significant increase in attacks occurring across other Nigerian states, mainly in the north. Attacks are primarily launched against Nigerian targets including government and security institutions, police stations and places of worship. Public places have also been targeted, including places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, such as bars and restaurants. There have been regular attacks on churches and mosques in northern Nigeria at times of worship. We cannot therefore rule out further attacks taking place.

A number of attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays. You should be particularly vigilant during these periods.

A militant group MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) is seeking to assume control of Nigeria’s energy resources in the Niger Delta region. A faction of the group was responsible for the 1 October 2010 attack in Abuja, demonstrating an ability and willingness of this faction to operate away from their usual base in the south. On 6 February 2012, MEND threatened to carry out renewed attacks on major oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta.

There is a threat of kidnapping throughout Nigeria. Kidnappings can be for financial or political gain, and can be motivated by criminality or terrorism. Westerners have been the target of kidnaps. Recent incidents have occurred in northern Nigeria and in the Delta region.

Read the FCO’s travel advice for Nigeria more information on the threat from terrorism.

Read the information provided on our Terrorism threat page.

Protective Security Advice

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure also provides protective security advice to businesses

Read the information provided on our Protective security advice page.

Intellectual Property

Sub-Sahara Africa has become a place of interest for the world. Though the region recorded an enormous in-flow of investment in the past decade, there are however palpable setbacks that still impede economic development. Some of these include political instability, poor leadership, lack of advanced technology, low level of education and infrastructure.

Nigeria has taken bold steps to put in place legal framework for the prevention of the infringement of intellectual property rights.

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), a creation of the Federal Legislature, is empowered to regulate the music, publishing, artistic, literary societies. The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, also a creation of the legislature regulates the broadcasting rights, licenses, and assignments. The Registry of Trademarks, Patents & Designs regulate the filings of trademarks industrial designs as well as grant of patents in Nigeria. Likewise, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion registers Technical Service Agreements and Technology Transfer and know-how Agreements.

The Registries mentioned above are inundated with filings and applications for trademark and patents. The Nigerian IP lawyers have taken the challenge with the formation of some pressure groups for the sole objective of improving and developing intellectual property in Nigeria as well as lobbying for IP law reform. The Intellectual Property Commission (IPCOM) Bill that is currently awaiting presidential assent is largely due to efforts of the IP community and the various associations formed.

Read the information provided on our Intellectual Property page.

Organised Crime

Crime is an endemic problem throughout Nigeria. This can range from random street violence to the targeting of foreign nationals in advance fee fraud. Organised crime gangs are active in the trafficking of narcotics and of people and will use violence to protect their activities. Foreign nationals are perceived to be rich and are often targets of elaborate and plausible frauds. Do not enter into any business activity without taking all precautions such as introductions by persons known to you or via trusted business contacts. Organised crime will also attempt to use the threat of kidnap or a medical emergency by contacting family and friends in the UK for a ransom/payment despite no such occurrence-taking place. Finally protect your identity and do not use credit or bank cards.

Read the information provided on our Organised crime page.

More information is available on overseas business risk in a range of markets.

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Countries: Nigeria
Topics: Insurance & Risk
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