The acquisition of the citizenship of Nigeria is predicated on three legal elements. These elements are blood based, marriage based and asset based. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999, the basic legal instrument in the Nigerian legal system brokered the legal template on citizenship in Nigeria. An exploration of the basis on which the acquisition of citizenship in Nigeria is limited to the elements is an essential act capable of promoting greater development in Nigeria. A citizen of a country is one that is accorded the right to belong to it by the laws of the country. A Nigerian citizen is one accorded the right to belong to Nigeria by the Constitution of Nigeria. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 provided in sections 25, 26 and 27 that a person can only become a citizen of Nigeria by birth, by registration or by Naturalization. These provisions exclude people who do not meet the requirements contained in them from becoming citizens of Nigeria.

Acquisition of Nigerian citizenship is different from the right of entry and domicile in Nigeria within a specified period of time. This right is, however, subject to the Nigerian Immigration Laws. This system of admittance into the territorial sovereignty of Nigeria is not a unique feature of the Nigerian Legal System, it is a common rule applicable to other legal systems of the world. Just as it is required in Nigeria that for any person who is a non-Nigerian to enter the territory of Nigeria, he must secure the visa to so enter from the consular mission of Nigeria in the person‟s country, so also is the requirement of visa before entry made a subsisting rule by other consular missions in the world2. In addition to the consular permission of entry, a non-Nigerian wishing to come to Nigeria must of necessity fulfil the conditions stipulated by the Nigerian Immigration Laws.


Citizenship, relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Citizenship implies the status of freedom with accompanying responsibilities. Citizens have certain rights, duties, and responsibilities that are denied or only partially extended to aliens and other noncitizens residing in a country. In general, full political rights, including the right to vote and to hold public office, are predicated upon citizenship. The usual responsibilities of citizenship are allegiance, taxation, and military service.


Each country has its own policies, regulations and criteria as to who is entitled to its citizenship. A person can be recognized or granted citizenship on a number of bases. Usually citizenship based on circumstances of birth is automatic, but in other cases an application may be required.

  • Citizenship by birth. If one or both of a person’s parents are citizens of a given state, then the person may have the right to be a citizen of that state as well. Formerly this might only have applied through the paternal line, but sex equality became common since the late twentieth century. Citizenship is granted based on ancestry or ethnicity and is related to the concept of a nation state common in Europe. Where jus sanguinis holds, a person born outside a country, one or both of whose parents are citizens of the country, is also a citizen. Some states (United Kingdom, Canada) limit the right to citizenship by descent to a certain number of generations born outside the state; others (Germany, Ireland) grant citizenship only if each new generation is registered with the relevant foreign mission within a specified deadline; while others (France, Switzerland, Italy) have no limitation on the number of generations born abroad who can claim citizenship of their ancestors’ country. This form of citizenship is common in civil law countries.
  • Born within a country. Some people are automatically citizens of the state in which they are born. This form of citizenship originated in England, where those who were born within the realm were subjects of the monarch (a concept pre-dating citizenship) and is common in common law countries. Most countries in the Americas grant unconditional jus soli citizenship, while it has been limited or abolished in almost all other countries.
  • Citizenship by marriage. Many countries fast-track naturalization based on the marriage of a person to a citizen. Countries which are destinations for such immigration often have regulations to try to detect sham marriages, where a citizen marries a non-citizen typically for payment, without them having the intention of living together. Many countries (United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Canada) allow citizenship by marriage only if the foreign spouse is a permanent resident of the country in which citizenship is sought; others (Switzerland, Luxembourg) allow foreign spouses of expatriate citizens to obtain citizenship after a certain period of marriage, and sometimes also subject to language skills and proof of cultural integration (e.g. regular visits to the spouse’s country of citizenship).
  • Naturalization. States normally grant citizenship to people who have entered the country legally and been granted permit to stay, or been granted political asylum, and also lived there for a specified period. In some countries, naturalization is subject to conditions which may include passing a test demonstrating reasonable knowledge of the language or way of life of the host country, good conduct (no serious criminal record) and moral character (such as drunkenness, or gambling), vowing allegiance to their new state or its ruler and renouncing their prior citizenship. Some states allow dual citizenship and do not require naturalized citizens to formally renounce any other citizenship.
  • Citizenship by investment or Economic Citizenship. Wealthy people invest money in property or businesses, buy government bonds or simply donate cash directly, in exchange for citizenship and a passport.



(1) The following are ways how alien can acquire the citizenship in Nigeria

  • By Registration
  • By Naturalization

By registration: 26. (1) Subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution, a person to whom the provisions of this section apply may be registered as a citizen of Nigeria, if the President is satisfied that –

  • (a) He is a person of good character; two people to testify to that which one should a Religious minister…
  • (b) He has shown a clear intention of his desire to be domiciled in Nigeria; and
  • (c) He has taken the Oath of Allegiance prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution.

(2) The provisions of this section shall apply to-

(a) Any woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria or every person of full age and capacity born outside Nigeria any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria.

By naturalization: 27. (1) Subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution, any person who is qualified in accordance with the provisions of this section may apply to the President for the same of a certificate of naturalisation.

  • (2) No person shall be qualified to apply for the grant of a certificate or naturalisation, unless he satisfies the President that –
  • * (a) He is a person of full age and capacity;
  • * (b) He is a person of good character;
  • * (c) He has shown a clear intention of his desire to be domiciled in Nigeria;
  • * (d) He is, in the opinion of the Governor of the State where he is or he proposes to be resident, acceptable to the local community in which he is to live permanently, and has been assimilated into the way of life of Nigerians in that part of the Federation;
  • * (e) He is a person who has made or is capable of making useful contribution to the advancement; progress and well-being of Nigeria;
  • * (f) He has taken the Oath of Allegiance prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution; and
  • * (g) He has, immediately preceding the date of his application, either-

(i) Resided in Nigeria for a continuous period of fifteen years; or

(ii) Resided in Nigeria continuously for a 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 the aggregate to not less than fifteen years.

(1) Subject to the other provisions of this section, a person shall forfeit forthwith his Nigerian citizenship if, not being a citizen of Nigeria by birth, he acquires or retains the citizenship or nationality of a country, other than Nigeria, of which he is not a citizen by birth.

(1) Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his Nigerian citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation.

(2) The President shall cause the declaration made under subsection (1) of this section to be registered and upon such registration, the person who made the declaration shall cease to be a citizen of Nigeria.

(3) The President may withhold the registration of any declaration made under subsection (1) of this section if-

(a) The declaration is made during any war in which Nigeria is physically involved; or

(b) In his opinion, it is otherwise contrary to public policy.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section.

(a) “full age” means the age of eighteen years and above;

(b) Any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.

(1) The President may deprive a person, other than a person who is a citizen of Nigeria by birth or by registration, of his citizenship, if he is satisfied that such a person has, within a period of seven years after becoming naturalized, been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than three years.

(2) The President shall deprive a person, other than a person who is citizen of Nigeria by birth, of his citizenship, if he is satisfied from the records of proceedings of a court of law or other tribunal or after due inquiry in accordance with regulations made by him, that –

(a) The person has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal towards the Federal Republic of Nigeria; or

(b) The person has, during any war in which Nigeria was engaged, unlawfully traded with the enemy or been engaged in or associated with any business that was in the opinion of the president carried on in such a manner as to assist the enemy of Nigeria in that war, or unlawfully communicated with such enemy to the detriment of or with intent to cause damage to the interest of Nigeria.

For the purposes of this Chapter, a parent or grandparent of a person shall be deemed to be a citizen of Nigeria if at the time of the birth of that person such parent or grandparent would have possessed that status by birth if he had been alive on the date of independence; and in this section, “the date of independence” has the meaning assigned to it in section 25 (2) of this Constitution.

(1) The president may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Chapter, prescribing all matters which are required or permitted to be prescribed or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to the provisions of this Chapter, and for granting special immigrant status with full residential rights to non-Nigerian spouses of citizens of Nigeria who do not wish to acquire Nigerian citizenship.

(2) Any regulations made by the president pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be laid before the National Assembly NIGERIA

CITIZENSHIP: Citizenship is based upon the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, dated 1989. (UKC-Commonwealth Nation) Those born before or on the date of independence, October 1, 1960, whose parents or grandparents were born in Nigeria and who were legally residing in Nigeria at the time, are considered citizens of Nigeria. BY BIRTH: Birth within the territory of Nigeria does not automatically confer citizenship. BY DESCENT: Child, at least one of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria, regardless of the child’s country of birth. REGISTRATION: The following persons are eligible to become citizens through registration: A foreign woman who marries a citizen of Nigeria. Person who is of adult age (17), born outside Nigeria, any of whose grandparents is or was a citizen of Nigeria. A foreign child adopted by Nigerian parents. BY NATURALIZATION: Nigerian citizenship may be acquired upon fulfillment of the following conditions: Person is of full age (17), has resided in Nigeria for at least 15 years, is of good character, plans to remain in Nigeria, is familiar with Nigerian language and customs, has a viable means of support, and has renounced previous citizenship.


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.



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Votruba, Martin. “Nationality, ethnicity in Slovakia”. Slovak Studies Program. University of Pittsburgh.

Weis, Paul (1979). Nationality and Statelessness in International Law. Sijthoff & Noordhoff. p. 3. ISBN 9789028603295.

Article IV of the Philippine Constitution.

“8 U.S. Code Part I – Nationality at Birth and Collective Naturalization”. LII / Legal Information Institute.

“Bishops act to tackle sham marriages”. GOV.UK.

“Citizenship for sale: how tycoons can go shopping for a new passport”. The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 24 August 2018.

Pocock 1998, p. 32.

Zarrow 1997, p. 4.

Isin, Engin F.; Bryan S. Turner, eds. (2002). Handbook of Citizenship Studies. Chapter 5 — David Burchell — Ancient Citizenship and its Inheritors; Chapter 6 — Rogers M. Smith — Modern Citizenship. London: Sage. pp. 89–104, 105. ISBN 978-0-7619-6858-0.

Heater, Derek (2004). A Brief History of Citizenship. New York City: New York University Press. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-8147-3671-5.

Hosking, Geoffrey (2005). Epochs of European Civilization: Antiquity to Renaissance. Lecture 3: Ancient Greece. United Kingdom: The Modern Scholar via Recorded Books. pp. 1, 2 (tracks). ISBN 978-1-4025-8360-5.

Hebert (editor), Yvonne M. (2002). Citizenship in transformation in Canada. chapters by Veronica Strong-Boag, Yvonne Hebert, Lori Wilkinson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 3, 4, 5. ISBN 978-0-8020-0850-3.



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