Do you want to know how to acquire Nigerian citizenship? Do you want or wish to be a Nigerian citizen or you simply want the knowledge and the position of the law as regards how to become a citizen of Nigeria, then this guide is for you
You can have dual citizenship in Nigeria, i.e. you are from a country but also wish to become a Nigerian and this process is really easy too.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended will be our point of reference for this guide. The Section 25 of the Nigerian Constitution defines and stipulates who is a Nigerian citizen and it also lays down the criteria to become one, if you are not one yet and are interested in Nigerian citizenship.
- Ways to become a Citizen of Nigeria: general ways of acquiring Nigerian citizenship
- Nigerian Citizenship by Birth (Section 25)
- Nigerian Citizenship by Registration (Section 26)
- Nigerian Citizenship by Naturalization (Section 27)
- Ways of losing citizenship in Nigeria
- Dual nationality in Nigeria
Ways to become a Citizen of Nigeria: general ways of acquiring Nigerian citizenship
As against the general conception that there are (4) four ways of acquiring citizenship in Nigeria, and this article will put you through on how to acquire Nigerian citizenship and the recognized numbers of ways.
According to Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) there are three ways to become a Nigerian citizen.
The Nigerian constitution recognizes 3 types of citizenship and stipulates the requirements to become each of them. The 3 types of Nigerian citizenship are:
- Citizenship by birth
- Citizenship by registration
- Citizenship by naturalization
For the purpose of clarity each of the types will now be treated in greater details.
Nigerian Citizenship by Birth (Section 25)
Who is a Nigerian citizen by birth?
If you are born in Nigeria does not immediately confer on you a Nigerian citizenship, you have to meet the following criteria or under any of the following circumstances:
Every person is a Nigerian citizen by birth if:
– He was born in Nigeria before October 1st 1960 i.e. the Nigeria’s date of independence
– Either his parents or grandparents belonged to an indigenous Nigerian community
– Either his parents or grandparents was born in Nigeria.
Every person is a Nigerian citizen by birth if:
– He was born in Nigeria after the date of independence (October 1st 1960), and
– Either his parent or grandparent is a citizen of Nigeria
Every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parent is a citizen of Nigeria is also a Nigerian citizen by birth.
From the point above, it can be seen that, even if you are born outside Nigeria, but if any of your parent (NOT grandparent) has a Nigerian citizenship or is a Nigerian citizen, you also automatically becomes a citizen of Nigeria too.
It could be seen from above that Nigeria, unlike the United States, Britain and some other nations of the world, does not give citizenship by birth to anyone merely on account of being born in Nigeria. So, that is the plight of a non-Nigerian born in Nigeria but there are other options for him.
Nigerian Citizenship by Registration (Section 26)
What exactly is citizenship by registration in relation to Nigeria?
Only two sets of non-Nigerians can acquire this form of citizenship. They are:
1) A foreign woman who is married to a Nigerian citizen, and
2) Any person of not less than 18 years of age and of capacity born outside Nigeria, any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria.
Any of these two people may apply to be a Nigerian citizen by registration.
Point 1, this is the famous Nigerian citizenship by marriage and as stated, if a foreign woman marries a Nigerian, she can register to also become a Nigerian citizen.
But, Curiously, this section and the rest of the Constitution is silent on the status of a male foreigner who marries a Nigerian citizen and many have justifiably accused the Constitution of being somewhat sexist in this regard.
The President of Nigeria may register such person if he is satisfied that:
- The person is of good character
- He /she has shown a clear intention of desire to reside in Nigeria, and
- He/she has taken the prescribed Oath of Allegiance to Nigeria.
A non-Nigerian applying for registration must renounce his /her citizenship of another country of which he/she is not by birth within 12 months of being registered as a Nigerian citizen.
Nigerian Citizenship by Naturalization (Section 27)
What is citizenship by naturalization?
Any non-Nigerian can be granted a certificate of naturalization if such person is able to satisfy the President of Nigeria that
- He is a person not less than 18 years of age and capacity
- He is a person of good character
- He has shown a clear intention of desire to be domiciled in Nigeria.
- He is, in the opinion of the Governor of the State where he resides or plans to reside, acceptable to the local community in which he is to live permanently and has been assimilated into the ways of life of Nigerians in that part of the country
- He is a person who has made or is capable of making useful contribution to the progress of Nigeria
- He has taken the prescribed Oath of Allegiance of Nigeria
- He has immediately prior to the date of his application either:
- resided in Nigeria for a continuous period of 15 years or
- Resided in Nigeria continuously for a period of 12 months, and during the period of 12 years immediately preceding the period of 12 months has resided in Nigeria for periods amounting in all to not less than 15 years.
However, the constitution requires a person who has been granted a certificate of naturalization to renounce his citizenship of any other country.
This applies only to his citizenship of any other country of which he is not by birth.
It must have been seen from the above that acquiring citizenship by naturalization is only possible where a person has resided in Nigeria for a total period of not less than 15 years.
So the number of years is just the main criterion here.
Ways of losing citizenship in Nigeria
There are two ways to lose your Nigerian citizenship but some include:
VOLUNTARY: Voluntary renunciation of Nigerian citizenship is permitted by law. Contact the Embassy for details and required paperwork.
INVOLUNTARY: 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.
Dual nationality in Nigeria
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.