The Notaries Public Act 1936 (''the Act'') provides for the appointment, roles and responsibilities of a Notary Public in Nigeria. In Nigeria, Notaries Public are appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria. When a Notary Public is appointed, he is deemed to be an officer of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and has the power to attest to the authenticity of a document and such document will be recognised internationally for any purpose it is meant for.
Section 2(1) of the Act provides "The Chief Justice of Nigeria may appoint any fit and proper person being a legal practitioner to be a Notary Public for Nigeria (in this Act referred to as a "notary" or as a "notary public".
From the above, it is clear that only legal practitioners can be appointed as Notaries Public of Nigeria.
PROCEDURE FOR THE NOTARIZATION OF DOCUMENTS IN NIGERIA
It must be noted that notarization of documents in Nigeria can only be done by a Notary Public.
The procedure for document notarization in Nigeria is as follows:
- The person or the owner of the document seeking notarization services will submit the document to a Notary Public; and
- The Notary Public seals or stamps the document (which is a requirement under the Act). Once done, the document is said to have been notarized.
After the notarisation process, the Notary Public is expected to keep a register of all the documents notarized for record purposes.
SERVICES OFFERED BY A NOTARY PUBLIC
The services offered by a Notary Public include the following:
- Administration of oaths for giving of evidence;
- Notarization of Bills of Exchange;
- Obtaining authentication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
- Preparation of Notarial Certificates of Law & Good Standing;
- Taking Affidavits, Declarations & Depositions;
- Verification of Company documents and Verification of identity and/or signature;
- Witnessing the execution of local and international documents such as Sale and Purchase Agreements, Transfers of Land Agreement, Assignments of Intellectual Property, Power of Attorney, Deeds, Security Documentation, Mortgages; and Company Resolutions, Minutes of Meetings and Reports.
- Notarizing the documents stated in (7) above.
IMMIGRATION SERVICES OFFERED BY A NOTARY PUBLIC
A Notary Public can also notarize the various documents below for immigration purposes:
- Birth Certificate;
- School Certificate;
- Police Clearance Certificate;
- Biodata page of International Passport;
- Marriage Certificate;
- Driver's Licence;
- Foreign documents required to be notarised in Nigeria before use; and
IMPORTANCE OF NOTARIZATION OF DOCUMENTS
Notarizing documents is very important as it gives more validity to the documents notarized. In some cases, notarization of a document may be a mandatory requirement, consequently, failure to notarize such documents may raise questions of their validity. Another effect is that such document may not be accepted for any official purpose by any authority or court of law in any case where such document is required to be tendered as an exhibit before any court.
Furthermore, where a notarized document is also required to be used for any official purpose overseas, it must also be authenticated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The article has provided a brief insight into the meaning, the procedure and the importance of notarizing documents in Nigeria. Among others, notarizing a document gives it more credibility, and could serve as the fulfilment of the requirement of the law.
The Author, Dayo Adu, is a Notary Public of Nigeria and is available to provide answers to all your queries.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.