In our increased globalized world, a quest for individual happiness is increasingly leading several Nigeria citizens to seek residence overseas. But in spite of the relocation, many Nigerians are still eager to retain their Nigerian citizenship for themselves and their children born abroad.
The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria stipulated different class of citizenship, which includes the citizenship by birth, citizenship by registration and citizenship by naturalization. In the meantime, my focus for now is just on the class of people describes as citizens by birth by the Constitution.
However, anyone may want to ask what are the advantages a citizenship by birth confers on anyone that makes it better than other class of citizenship? The simple fact is that citizenship by birth confers a great deal of benefits to the holders compares to others.
Nigerian Citizenship by Birth
First, going by the provision of the section 28 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), acquiring the citizenship of another country after becoming Nigeria citizen other than citizen by birth will result to immediate forfeiture of the acquired Nigeria citizenship. In addition, pursuant to the provisions of Section 131 and 176 of the said 1999 Constitution, nobody shall be entitled to hold the position of the office of President and Governor of a State in Nigeria except such person is a Nigeria citizen by birth.
Then who is a Nigeria citizen by birth? This can be better explained by restating section 25 of the 1999 Constitution. The section 25 of the Constitution state as follows:
25. (1) The following persons are citizens of Nigeria by birth-namely-
a. Every person born in Nigeria before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria;
Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Nigeria by virtue of this section if neither of his parents nor any of his grandparents was born in Nigeria.
b. Every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria; and
c. Every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria.
(2) In this section, “the date of independence” means the 1st day of October 1960.
Section 25(a)–(c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) gives the instances by which someone will be deemed to be a Nigerian citizen by birth. Section 25(1)(c) confers citizenship by birth on any children born outside Nigeria if at least one of the parents is a citizen of Nigeria, either by birth or registration or naturalization.
It therefore follows that Nigerian citizenship does not necessarily follow the place or location of birth but rather it follows the parenthood. Once a person is a citizen of Nigeria, the place or country where such person gives birth to his or her kids or where such person’s spouse comes from is of no consequence, all the children will be entitled to Nigerian citizenship by birth going by the provisions of our Constitution.
Conclusively, Nigeria citizenship law is a slight departure from United States and Canada laws where any child born in that country automatically becomes a citizen by birth. An Indian man that got married to a Chinese woman in Lagos, who both do not enjoy any form of Nigerian citizenship will not be able to pass same to their children, even if such child is born in Nigeria. Nigerian citizenship by birth is acquired by inheritance from parenthood and not by location of birth.
Written by Olusola Jegede, a Partner at Resolution Law Firm, Lagos.