House: Bill to penalize fake Notary officers passes second reading
The House of Representatives at the plenary yesterday, passed for second reading, a Bill seeking an amendment to the Notaries Act, 2004 to review upward the penalties imposed in the Act, to deter notaries from committing offences and also prevent non-notaries from impersonating the role and duties of notaries in Nigeria.
Leading the debate on its general principles, the sponsor, Hon. Serguis Ogun (PDP, Edo) said that increasing the penalty imposed for the commission of offences under the Act will have notaries carry out their function with a sense of responsibility and a readiness to promote public good at all times.
He also said the amendment will discourage persons who are not notaries from performing the functions of a notary.
He explained that the Bill seeks to amend section 15 of the Act, to provide that any notary public or other person who willfully certifies or propounds any false document, or who fraudulently deceives, withholds any fact or is guilty of an offence, is liable on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of three years, as against the four months in the original Act.
He further explained that section 16 of the Act will be amended by replacing N100 with N500,000 as penalty for any person who is suspended from practising as a notary or whose name is
not on the register as a notary who makes, does, exercises or performs any act, matter or thing appertaining or belonging to the office, the practice of a notary public.
The lawmaker said, “the Notaries Public Act provides for the appointment of Notaries Public in Nigeria, their registration and regulations. A Notary Public is an officer, usually, a lawyer, appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and authorized to perform acts in legal matters, particular witnessing signatures on documents, verification and authentication of documents amidst other functions. Under section 2(2) of the Notaries Public Act of Nigeria. A notary appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria shall perform the same duties and exercise the same functions as a notary in England.”
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