You wish to be a Nigerian citizen or you simply want to know what the law says about how to become a Nigerian citizen? This article is for you. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended is our guide in this discourse . Section 25 of the Constitution defines who is a Nigerian citizen and also lays down the criteria to become one, if you are not one yet.

The constitution recognizes 3 types of citizenship and stipulates the requirements to become each of them. The 3 types of Nigerian citizenship are:

1. Citizenship by birth

2. Citizenship by registration

3. Citizenship by naturalization

For the purpose of clarity each of the types will now be treated in greater details.

Citizenship by Birth

Who is a Nigerian citizen by birth?

1. Every person is a Nigerian citizen by birth if:

(a) he was born in Nigeria before October 1st 1960 ie the Nigeria's date of independence

(b) either his parents or grandsparents belong to an indigenous Nigerian community

(c) either his parents or grandsparents was born in Nigeria.

2. Every person is a Nigerian citizen by birth if:

(a) he was born in Nigeria after the date of independence, and

(b) either his parent or grandparent is a citizen of Nigeria

3. Every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parent is a citizen of Nigeria is also a Nigerian citizen by birth.

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 purely on account of being born in Nigeria. So, that is the sight of a non-Nigerian born in Nigeria but there are other options for him.

Citizenship by Registration

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 which grand parents is a citizen of Nigeria.

Any of these two people may apply to be Nigerian citizen by registration. The President of Nigeria may register such person if he is satisfied that:

(i) the person is of good character

(ii) he / she has shown a clear intent of desire to stay in Nigeria, and

(iii) 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.

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

1. He is a person not less than 18 years of age and capacity

2. he is a person of good character

3. he has shown a clear intention of desire to be domiciled in Nigeria

4. He is, in the opinion of the Governor of the State where he resides or plans to stay, 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

5. he is a person who has made or is capable of making useful contribution to the progress of Nigeria

6. he has taken the prescribed Oath of Allegiance of Nigeria

7. He has immediately prior to the date of his application either

I. resident in Nigeria for a continuous period of 15 years or

ii. stayed in Nigeria continuously for a period of 12 months, and during the period of 12 years immediately preceding the period of 12 months has stayed 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 stayed in Nigeria for a total period of not less than 15 years. So the number of years is just the main criterion here.

As Written by Kehinde Nathaniel Adegbite


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