A police officer, Aliyu Giwa in series of tweets explained the differences between Guarantor, witness and Reference, and warned people to be careful when agreeing to sign any document as either Guarantor, Reference or Witness.
He said “please ask questions for proper understanding of the agreement”.
Guarantor: If u’re a guarantor on someone else’s loan, u’re promising to the lender that you will repay the borrower’s loan if the borrower does not repay. If u sign as a guarantor on a loan contract, that is legally binding. Only agree to be a guarantor if u can afford the risk.
Reference: A reference is considered to be just an introduction to the borrower, like a character reference.
Referees should not be subject to what is written in the legal agreement. There should not be any obligation to repay someone else’s loan just by being a referee.
If you are a referee and have not signed as a guarantor, and if you are being contacted to repay someone else’s loan as though you were a guarantor, you can be very clear and say that you have no legal obligation to pay.
Witness: Technically, a ‘witness’ is meant to provide confirmation that a contract or transaction has taken place; for a loan contract, a ‘witness’ should not be expected to pay the loan amount if the borrower cannot repay the loan.
Be cautious of signing a loan that uses this term. Before signing, clarify exactly what the obligations are – specifically whether you will be accountable to pay the loan if the borrower cannot..
Mr. Aliyu Giwa is a Superintendent of Nigeria Police with interest in conversation about safety and security.