Citizenship by Naturalization: The President of Nigeria is also charged with the responsibility of granting citizenship by naturalization to applicants. Again, there are certain conditions which the applicants must fulfill.

This form of citizenship is subject to the provisions of the Constitution on dual citizenship in Nigeria. Only a qualified person may apply to the President for the grant of a certificate of naturalization. To be qualified to apply, one must satisfy the President of Nigeria that:

  • He/She is a person of full age and capacity;
  • He/She is a person of good character;
  • He/She has shown a clear intention of his/her desire to be domiciled in Nigeria
  • He/She is, in the opinion of the Governor of the State where he/she is or proposes to be resident, acceptable to the local community in which he/she is to live permanently, and has been assimilated into the way of life of Nigerians in that part of Nigeria;
  • He/She is a person who has made or is capable of making useful contributions to the advancement, progress and well being of Nigeria;
  • He/She has taken the Oath of Allegiance prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution; and
  • He/She has, immediately preceding the date of his/her application, either – 

– Resided in Nigeria for a continuous period of fifteen years, or
– Resided in Nigeria for a continuous period of twelve months, and during the period of twenty years immediately preceding that period of twelve months has resided in Nigeria for periods amounting in total to not less than fifteen years. 

The Concept of Dual Citizenship in Nigeria: What does the Law say?
A person is expected to immediately forfeit his Nigerian citizenship where he is not a citizen of Nigeria by birth and acquires or retains the citizenship or nationality of another country wherein he is not also a citizen by birth.

It is worthy of note that a citizen of Nigeria by birth cannot forfeit his/her citizenship, even if he/she acquires citizenship of another country. Also, if a person is a citizen of another country by birth, he/she will not be expected to forfeit his/her Nigerian citizenship because this alone should not be regarded as acquiring dual citizenship and so he/she is not affected by the subsection.

Renunciation of Citizenship: When and How?
Two common reasons (not peculiar to Nigeria) why people may seek to renounce their citizenship are:

  • Newer tax laws and citizen-based taxation laws; and
  • War

Where a person seeks to renounce his citizenship for whatever reason, such a person is required to make a declaration to this effect in a prescribed form.

The President of Nigeria will then register the declaration. It is after this registration that the Declarant ceases to be a Nigerian Citizen.
To be affected by this section, anyone who seeks to renounce his Nigerian citizenship must be of full age (18 years and above). It is also rather interesting to note that our law recognizes any woman who is married as being of full age.

It is not a hard and fast rule that everyone who seeks to renounce their Nigerian citizenship will be so registered by the President of Nigeria. In fact, the President of Nigeria has the power to withhold the registration of a declaration if: the declaration is made during any period in which Nigeria is physically involved in any war; or if the President believes that the declaration to renounce is contrary to public policy.

Deprivation of Citizenship
This further seals the fact that citizenship is not automatic and may not last forever. In other words, it is not always ‘Once a Citizen, Always a Citizen.’ The President may, in some cases, deprive certain people of the Nigerian citizenship.

Where the President of Nigeria is satisfied that a citizen by naturalization has, within seven years after becoming naturalized, been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than three years; the President may deprive that person of his citizenship.

Also, the President shall deprive a Citizen of Nigeria by Registration or Naturalisation, of his citizenship where he is satisfied, having perused records of proceedings of a Court or Tribunal, that:

  1. The person has shown himself to be disloyal towards Nigeria by act or speech. 
  2. During any war in which Nigeria was engaged, the person unlawfully traded with the enemy; or was affiliated with any business that the President believes was to assist the enemy in that war; or unlawfully communicated with such enemy to the actual detriment of Nigeria or with intent to damage the interest of Nigeria. 

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)

SEBATINE TAR. HON, ‘S.T. HON’S CONSTITITIONAL AND MIGRATION LAW IN NIGERIA,’ Pearl Publishers International Limited, Portharcourt. 2016.