How to Become a Citizen of Nigeria; A Complete Guide

How to Become a Citizen of Nigeria
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In this article, we will discuss the different ways you can acquire Nigerian citizenship; that is, how to become a citizen of Nigeria.

Other things this article will cover include;

  • Who a Nigerian citizen is
  • Duties and obligations of Nigerian citizens
  • Benefits of having Nigerian citizenship
  • How Nigerian citizenship can be lost
  • And other necessary details

If you are reading this, you may wish to gain Nigerian citizenship or confirm your citizenship status.

Whatever reason you may have to find out how to become a Nigerian citizen, this article will explicitly explain everything you need to know.

Let’s get to it.

How to Become a Citizen of Nigeria

Nigeria’s Nationality Law

All countries have what is called a Nationality law or a Citizenship law.

It explains who a citizen is, their duties and obligations to the state, and how citizenship may be gained or lost.

The Nigerian constitution has a section that is dedicated to all matters concerning its citizen and this section can be referred to as Nigeria’s Nationality law.

Who is a Nigerian Citizen

A citizen is someone who is recognized as a member of a state or country under its custom law.

A Nigerian citizen is anyone who is recognized as a member of Nigeria according to the nation’s law.

Duties and Obligations of Nigerian Citizens

The Nigerian constitution clearly states the duties of its citizens.

If you plan to become a citizen of Nigeria, you must know what those duties are.

Here is a summary of the duties of a Nigerian citizen:

  • Obey the constitution and respect National ideals
  • Uphold Nigeria’s dignity
  • Respect the rights and dignity of other citizens
  • Positively impact the community you reside in
  • Assist law enforcement agencies in maintaining law and order
  • Honestly declare your income and pay your taxes

Benefits of Nigerian Citizenship

Before you decided to acquire Nigerian citizenship, you might have already been aware of the multiple benefits attached to it.

If you are not, allow us to highlight a few benefits that come with Nigerian citizenship:

  • You can relocate to any ECOWAS country with ease.
  • Also, You can visit any ECOWAS country for 90 days.
  • You can join the Nigerian Army or Navy.
  • You can permanently reside in Nigeria.
  • Also, You will not need a residence permit to visit certain countries.
  • You can vote and be voted for i.e contest for government positions.

Types of Citizenship in Nigeria

There are four types of citizenship in Nigeria;

Citizenship By Birth

Citizenship by virtue of being born in Nigeria. Although being born here does not guarantee automatic citizenship.

Citizenship By Registration

Only 2 classes of people are eligible for this type of citizenship. People born outside Nigeria, aged 17 with a grandparent who is or was a Nigerian and a foreign child adopted by Nigerian parents.

Citizenship By Descent

This is citizenship gotten by virtue of being born to Nigerian parents.

Citizenship By Naturalization

A foreigner who has lived in Nigeria for at least fifteen years and intends to keep living here can go for citizenship by naturalization.

Read

Methods of Acquiring Nigerian Citizenship

Chapter 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 is known as the Nigerian Citizenship Act. In this section of the constitution, methods of acquiring citizenship were discussed. It highlights how to become a citizen of Nigeria.

Generally, there are 3 ways of gaining Nigerian citizenship;

  • By birth
  • By registration
  • And by naturalization

Read: Nigerian Coat of Arms; History, Meaning, Symbols, Facts, All to Know

What Currency Does Nigeria Use? Nigerian Currency; All to Know

Citizenship by Birth

Earlier, we mentioned that merely being born in Nigeria does not automatically confer citizenship status on the infant.

So then what does the constitution mean by citizenship by birth?

To qualify for citizenship by birth in Nigeria, the person must satisfy the following conditions:

  • The person must be born in Nigeria after the date of the country’s independence (1/10/1960), to parents or grandparents who belong to an indigenous Nigerian community. This is only applicable to people whose parents or grandparents were born in Nigeria.
  • If the person is born outside the country to Nigerian parents then they will be granted citizenship by birth.

Citizenship by Registration

As the name implies, one can simply register for Nigerian citizenship. To register for citizenship as a Nigerian, the President must be convinced that:

  • You are of good character. Two people will testify on your behalf, and one of them must be a religious minister.
  • You are intent on being domiciled in Nigeria.
  • You have taken the Oath of Allegiance.

Another class of people who can register for Nigerian citizenship is:

  • Any woman who is married or has been married to a Nigerian.
  • Any person of full age and capacity born outside of Nigeria with Nigerian grandparents.

Citizenship by Naturalization

According to the Federal constitution, only 2 classes of people can qualify for citizenship through naturalization.

The first class of people must convince the President that they meet the following conditions:

  • Are of full age and capacity.
  • Are of good character.
  • Understand the way of life of the people in the area he resides in. This is based on the Governor’s opinion.
  • Can contribute to the progress of the community they choose to reside in.
  • Have taken the Oath of Allegiance.
  • Must have resided in Nigeria for at least 15 years.
  • Have continuously resided in Nigeria for 12 months. And immediately before then, during the period of 20 years, resided in Nigeria for periods not less than 15 years.

The second class of people is those who are subject to the provisions of Section 28 in the constitution.

Under this section, they are free to apply for citizenship by naturalization.

Read: Functions of Central Bank of Nigeria You Didn’t Know

Nigerian Passport Acquisition

How to Apply for a Nigerian Passport

In this section, we are going to give you a detailed step-by-step guide on how to apply for a Nigerian passport using their website.

  • Visit the Nigerian Immigration website.
  • Select the appropriate form and start the process.
  • Select a passport type – standard e-passport or official e-passport.
  • Fill the application form, and print out the filled form before you submit it.
  • After submitting your application form, you proceed to make payment online.
  • You can select the currency you want to pay in – either Naira or Dollars.
  • If you choose to pay in Naira then you will be prompted to choose between bank payment and card payment.
  • For people who choose to pay in Dollars, you will be redirected to another page where you will make the payment.
  • After you’ve completed your payment, you can move forward to the interview with the necessary documents.

General Documents for Nigerian Passports

There are three types of Nigerian passports and each one has slightly different document requirements.

However, we are going to highlight the general documents which include;

  • Local government letter identification
  • Birth certificate
  • 2 recent passports
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Police report (if applicable)
  • Guarantor’s form
  • Parent’s letter of consent for minors

Types of Nigerian Passports

There are three types of Nigerian passports:

  • Standard passport
  • Official passport
  • Diplomatic passport

Each passport-type has a specified group of people eligible to use it. We will highlight a few of them in the next section.

Standard Passport Eligibility

All Nigerian citizens. It does not matter how your citizenship was acquired.

Official Passport Eligibility

Commissioners, senior government officials, colonels, 1st class traditional rulers, etc.

Diplomatic Passport Eligibility

All Nigerian diplomats and other government officials.

Renouncing Nigerian Citizenship

For Nigerians in the house, there might be times you have casually joked about claiming another country’s nationality as your own and denying your Nigerian status.

Did you know there is a way to legally renounce your Nigerian citizenship? In this section, we will discuss:

  • Reasons you may want to renounce your citizenship.
  • How to renounce your Nigerian citizenship.
  • Consequences of renouncing your citizenship.

Reasons to Renounce your Citizenship

Nobody spontaneously decides to renounce their citizenship. There is a reason they have chosen to do so. In this section, we are going to highlight some reasons why people renounce their citizenship.

Multiple Citizenship

The Nigerian constitution is in support of citizens holding dual citizenship. However, it also has limitations to the extent one can acquire this citizenship.

Anyone who is not a citizen of Nigeria by birth, and acquire citizenship in a country other than Nigeria, will forget their Nigerian citizenship status.

A citizen with multiple citizenships may wish to renounce them for political reasons. The Nigerian constitution does not allow people with multiple citizenships to contest for elections in Nigeria.

Many persons have been advised to renounce their citizenship in other countries if they are interested in holding any political position.

Conscription

Conscription refers to compulsory enrolment in the military. During the 18th century, it was commonplace for citizens to renounce their citizenship to avoid being forcefully recruited into the military. 

Over time, many people objected against conscription on several grounds ranging from political to religious.

It was perceived as a violation of human rights because many people did not wish to serve in the military. To the extent that they were willing to renounce their citizenship.

Oath of Allegiance

When a person swears an Oath of Allegiance to a country other than his own, they are directly/indirectly renouncing their citizenship status.

Joining the Armed Forces and accepting jobs that require an Oath of Allegiance are ways a person may indirectly or directly renounce their citizenship.

Involuntary Relinquishment

In this case, the person’s citizenship status is involuntarily taken away by the government. This is because their conduct has proven to be inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution.

Examples of such instances are:

  • Acts of Treason; A person who has committed an act of treason or has attempted to, and was found guilty in court may have their citizenship status stripped from them. However, this is subject to the fact they are not a Nigerian citizen by birth.
  • Such a person has assisted the enemy country with the intent to damage Nigeria’s interest during a war.

Read: Military Coups in Nigeria; All to Know

Eligibility for Citizenship Renunciation

There are certain conditions one must fulfill before they can renounce their citizenship.

In Nigeria these conditions are:

  • The person must be of legal age, i.e., above 18 years of age. Married women below 18 are exempted from this rule.
  • The person must be of sound mind.
  • Such a person should have acquired or will likely be granted citizenship in another country.
  • Such a person is not financially or criminally liable to the state.

Steps on How to Renounce Nigerian Citizenship

In this section, we are going to discuss the steps to follow and the necessary documents needed to relinquish your Nigerian citizenship status.

  • Visit the appropriate authority in charge of handling citizenship-related issues such as The Ministry of Interior, the Nigerian Immigration Service, or the Nigerian embassy in the country where you reside.
  • Fill the application form given to you. The form must be signed by a magistrate, notary public, commissioner of oath, or a justice of the peace.
  • Submit the form with the following documents
    • foreign passport
    • foreign citizenship certificate or evidence of foreign citizenship
    • birth certificate
    • national ID card
    • passport photograph
    • Nigerian passport and other travel documents
    • marriage documents for female applicants below 18.

Keep it in mind that during a war Nigeria is physically involved in if the President believes it is against public policy, he reserves the power to hold the registration of any declaration or renunciation of citizenship.

Consequences of Renouncing your Citizenship

It should be no surprise that there are consequences to relinquishing your Nigerian citizenship.

All benefits you enjoyed because of your citizenship status will be given up upon renouncing your citizenship.

Some consequences of renouncing your citizenship are:

  • Your children will lose their Nigerian citizenship status since their parents are no longer Nigerian citizens.
  • You are no longer eligible for federal government positions.
  • Your right to unrestricted movement in and out of the country has been denied.
  • You lose the right to vote and be voted for.

Conclusion on How to Become a Citizen of Nigeria

In this article, we discussed everything necessary to gain Nigerian citizenship and how to become a citizen of Nigeria.

We first discussed who a Nigerian citizen is, their duties, and the benefits they enjoy from Nigerian citizenship.

We also looked at the 4 types of citizenship in Nigeria and the 3 ways in which Nigerian citizenship can be acquired.

Finally, we discussed how to renounce your citizenship, the reasons why people would renounce their citizenship, and the consequences of doing so.

Hopefully, this article has given you all the necessary information you need on how to become a citizen of Nigeria.

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