Summary of Citizenship and Rights

Definition of Citizenship and Citizens

Citizenship is the position or status of being legally recognised as a member a particular country, either by nativity or naturalisation. It can also be defined as the process by which a person becomes a legitimate member of a given state.

A citizen is a legal member of a particular country who possesses full right to claim a state as his own. He or she possesses every right in the state and also performs his or her duties as a legitimate member of the state. Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state or nation involving the individual’s full political membership in the state as well as permanent allegiance to it.

Types of Citizenship

  1. Citizenship by birth: This is the type of citizen that occurs when a person is born in a particular place.
  2. Citizenship by registration: This is the type of citizenship given to a person who marries someone in a particular country because marriage entails registration.
  3. Citizenship by Naturalisation: This occurs when a person resides in a particular place for a long period of time.

How to Become a Citizen of a Country

  1. By marriage: An individual who marries outside his or her domain can acquire the citizenship of the place he/she married to.
  2. By good character: A person can become a citizen by his/her good disposition or character
  3. Statutory age: A person must have attained a particular age before becoming a citizen, the statutory age depends on the country.
  4. One’s contribution to the country: The usefulness or the extent of a person’s contribution to a country can facilitate his or her status as a citizen.
  5. One’s readiness to stay in a country
  6. Residency i.e. the person must have stayed in the country for a particular number of years.

Rights of Citizens

The citizens of a state have some legal and natural right which they must enjoy as citizens. Some of these rights are:

  1. Right to life
  2. Right to freedom of movement
  3. Right to freedom of speech
  4. Right to own and acquire property anywhere in the country
  5. Right to fair hearing
  6. Right to vote and be voted for
  7. Right to freedom of association and assembly
  8. Right to dignity of human person
  9. Right to private and family life
  10. Right to personal liberty
  11. Right to freedom of conscience and religion.

Limitations to the Rights of Citizens

The rights of the citizens stated in the constitution are not absolute; they are limited to some extent. There are some conditions under which these rights can be curtailed. Some of the limitations to rights of citizens are:

  1. During emergency period like war, or threat to internal security, a citizen may be detained without trial by the authority if the person is regarded as a security risk.
  2. The right to life of a citizen can be denied if the person is found guilty of a murder or criminal case.
  3. The right to freedom of assembly or association can be denied if the association is not in accordance to the law of the land. e.g. cultism,
  4. Right to freedom of movement can also be denied if the citizen has criminal case pending in court in which giving the criminal bail might jeopardize the investigation of the case by the law enforcement agencies.
  5. The right to vote can also be curtailed if a citizen is not 18 years old.

Responsibilities of a Citizen

  1. Obedience to law and order: The citizens of the state are expected to obey the laws of the state so that orderliness can reign in the state.
  2. Reporting of criminals: A good citizen must perform the duty of reporting law breakers or any act of lawlessness to the police.
  3. National service: A good citizen should respond to the call to serve his/ her country. An example is the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
  4. Voting during election: In Nigerian, a citizen that has attained the age of 18 is expected to vote during election.
  5. Payment of taxes and rates: Good citizens are expected to pay their taxes at the appropriate time.
  6. Loyalty to the state: It is the responsibilities of Nigerian citizens to be stable and show constant support to their government.
  7. Respect for national symbols: National symbols are the national anthem, national flag, national currency, and so on. All of these need to be respected by the citizens.

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