Citizens of any country can gain certain rights and duties which are only allowed if they have the passport of the country. Therefore, every nation has its own way of determining its citizen and every country has its rules on how to obtain and lose your citizenship. Nigeria is not an exception. There are three types of citizenship in Nigeria:
Three Types of Citizenship in Nigeria
The provisions of section 25 of the Nigerian Constitution states that the following people are to be regarded as citizens of Nigeria by birth:
- People who were born in Nigeria before and after the date of independence.
- People whose parents, grandparents or other relatives belong to indigenous Nigerian communities. And what is meant by the indigenous communities from Nigeria? Nigeria is a country with hundreds of tribes and if your parents or grandparents belong to one of these tribes, you can be or become a citizen of Nigeria by birth. It includes Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Efik and many other tribes.
- If your parents or grandparents were or are citizens of Nigeria, you can be or become a citizen of Nigeria by birth; this applies even if you were born in another country.
The provisions of section 26 of the Nigerian Constitution explain that a person who is not Nigerian by birth can become a citizen of Nigeria by registration. A person can apply to become a Nigerian citizen by registration if he or she satisfies these conditions:
- The person is of good character (This statement should be testified by two people, and one of them should be a religious minister).
- This person expresses and shows a clear intention of his inclination/desire/wish to be domiciled in Nigeria.
- This person has subscribed to the oath of allegiance to Nigeria, which is provided by the seventh schedule of the Nigerian Constitution.
- The provisions of section 26 of the Nigerian Constitution also state that the following categories of the citizen can apply for the Nigerian immigration: A woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria. It also includes every person who has parents or grandparents of any indigenous Nigerian tribe.
If a person cannot apply to become a Nigerian citizen by birth or registration, he can still apply to become a naturalized Nigerian citizen if he meets these requirements:
- This person is of full age.
- This person is of good character (just like in the type before).
- This person has shown a clear desire to be domiciled in the country.
- The governor of the state where the person applying for citizenship wants to reside has to confirm the desire of the community to assimilate this person.
- The person should be capable of contributing to the wellbeing of Nigeria and its citizens.
- The person has lived in Nigeria for fifteen years preceding the application date.
A person who is a citizen of Nigeria by birth can acquire the citizenship of another country. Nonetheless, its not an option for the people who became citizens of Nigeria by naturalization or registration. A person who wants to acquire the citizenship of Nigeria by registration or naturalization will have to renounce his/her other citizenships within 12 months.
Nigerian nationality law allows dual nationality of people of Nigerian descent either through birth or parentage. They are also allowed to hold public office in Nigeria. Some in Nigeria feel that dual nationality damages nationality unity of the country.
Renunciation and Deprivation of Citizenship
A person of full age can renounce his/her citizenship by applying to the president. The president will register the application, upon which the person will cease to be a citizen of Nigeria. However, the president may reject the application if Nigeria is at war.
Also, any naturalized citizen of Nigeria can be deprived of their citizenship by a president if he/she gets imprisoned for more than three years within the seven years after the naturalization.
Any citizen of Nigeria by naturalization or registration can be deprived of citizenship if he/she proves disloyal. The statement of his/her disloyalty should be proved in a court of law.
The citizens of Nigeria by registration or naturalization can be deprived of citizenship if it can be proved that they are enemies of the country, or have collaborated with enemies of the country. This includes conducting business deals with organizations who fight against Nigeria, and applies to traitors who have fought against Nigeria.
The president can also make any decisions regarding the citizenship of anyone in the country, even though this is not written in the constitution. However, this kind of decision should be submitted to and approved by the National Assembly.
Citizenship is based upon the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, dated 1989. Those born before or on the date of independence, October 1, 1960, whose parents or grandparents were born in Nigeria and who were legally residing in Nigeria at the time, are considered citizens of Nigeria.
BY BIRTH: Birth within the territory of Nigeria does not automatically confer citizenship.
BY DESCENT: Child, at least one of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria, regardless of the child’s country of birth.
BY REGISTRATION: The following persons are eligible to become citizens through registration: A foreign woman who marries a citizen of Nigeria. Person who is of adult age (17), born outside Nigeria, any of whose grandparents is or was a citizen of Nigeria. A foreign child adopted by Nigerian parents.
BY NATURALIZATION: Nigerian citizenship may be acquired upon fulfillment of the following conditions: Person is of full age (17), has resided in Nigeria for at least 15 years, is of good character, plans to remain in Nigeria, is familiar with Nigerian language and customs, has a viable means of support, and has renounced previous citizenship.
VOLUNTARY LOSS: Voluntary renunciation of Nigerian citizenship is permitted by law. Contact the Embassy for details and required paperwork.
INVOLUNTARY LOSS: The following are grounds for involuntary loss of Nigerian citizenship:
Registered or Naturalized citizen voluntarily acquires the citizenship of a foreign country.
Naturalized citizen, before seven years of residence, sentenced to prison for three years or more.
Registered or Naturalized citizen is convicted of acts of disloyalty to the Republic of Nigeria.