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A breakdown of the different types of citizenships in Nigeria

Citizenship is a legal status conferred upon individuals by their It qualifies an individual to be legally recognized as part of a particular country and enjoy the benefits and rights of such a country. Nigeria offers three different types of citizenship through which one can become a citizen. 

It is only these three that the Nigerian constitution recognises. 

Citizenship by Birth

 A child automatically becomes a Nigerian once he is given birth in Nigeria by Nigerian parents. This type of citizenship doesn’t require any other certificate or protocol like the other types of citizenship. Nevertheless, it has some facts attached to it by the Nigerian constitution. The facts are three in number and they include:

i) Those that are born in Nigeria before the independence which was 1st October 1960 and after the said date.

ii) Those whose parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other relatives are indigenes of Nigeria. In other words, one or two of the parents must hail from either Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, or any other tribe within Nigeria.

iii) If your parent or grandparents are Nigerian citizens, you automatically become a Nigerian not minding any country you were given birth to.

 Anyone that meets the three facts stated above is a Nigerian by birth and citizenship by birth is the most common type of citizenship in Nigeria. It is worth noting that if a child is born in Nigeria but the parents are not Nigerian, it doesn’t authorize the child to become a Nigerian.

Citizenship by Registration

This type of citizenship involves getting registered. It is mainly for immigrants. Before an individual can get this type of citizenship, he has to prove two points: firstly, he must be of good character, and secondly, he has to be of great value to the Nigerian government.

 Aside from this, the Nigerian constitution has some requirements to become a citizen by registration. The requirements are listed below:

 i) The person intending to get citizenship by registration has to prove his good character by getting two people to attest to him, one of which must be a religious minister. It is generally believed that those two people would have good knowledge of who he or she is and can attest to him.

ii)He has to show a very clear intention of his desire to be a citizen of Nigeria by registration. That is more reason it has to be documented at the appropriate office.

iii) He has to sign the oath of allegiance to Nigeria. This oath keeps him bounded to Nigeria.

iv) Any woman from any country who is married to a Nigerian or was married to a Nigerian in the past. Those that have Nigerian parents or grandparents are also inclusive.

 Anyone that has all the requirements stated above is qualified to get citizenship by registration in Nigeria. He can then apply to the national immigration office and wait for their approval. Once the approval is gotten, the individual becomes a citizen of Nigeria.

Citizenship by Naturalization 

This is the last and most tedious type of Nigerian citizenship. It is also for immigrants but people hardly go for it because of its tough requirements. It is the last resort for immigrants seeking citizenship who cannot meet up with the requirements of citizenship by registration. 

Below is a list of requirements one needs to get before he gets citizenship by naturalization in Nigeria:

i) The person must be of age. He or she must be at least 17 or 18 years old.

ii) The person must be of good character just like the criteria for citizenship by registration.

iii) The person must show clear evidence that he wants to live in Nigeria

iv) Confirmation by the state government where the person wishes to reside. The confirmation has to state that the community where the person wants to live is willing to accept him.

v) The person must be able to contribute to the welfare of Nigeria and its inhabitants. 

vi) The person must have lived for fifteen (15) years in Nigeria before applying.

When the individual meets the above-listed requirements, he can apply to the national immigration office and wait for approval.

Differences between the three (3) types of Citizenship in Nigeria

The major difference between these three types of citizenship is that citizenship by birth does not need any special registration and is only for babies born in Nigeria that can become citizens based on citizenship by birth. On other hand, citizenship by registration and naturalization is open for adults with official registration.

The major difference between citizenship by registration and naturalization is that anyone who qualifies for citizenship by registration can only apply and get approved. But citizenship by naturalization has to wait till the specified number of years is complete.


Once you get citizenship you can now fully enjoy the rights and benefits of a Nigerian citizen like the right to vote, the right to hold a Nigerian passport, and the right to freely move and work in Nigeria. 

It is worth noting that one can decide to revoke citizenship, especially those that obtained their citizenship by registration or naturalization. Before this is legally recognized, it has to be approved by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

If an individual that gained citizenship by registration or naturalization commits any offence that gets him imprisoned within three (3) or seven (7) years of getting the citizenship, his citizenship can be revoked.

All these are acceptable means of gaining citizenship in Nigeria as stated in the 1989 Nigerian constitution.

Chinonye Ikebaku

This article was written by Chinonye Ikebuaku.