The Federal Government has conferred Nigerian citizenship on 286 foreign nationals, among them, 86 Lebanese, 14 Britons, and 4 Americans
The Nigerian citizenship was conferred on the foreigners by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Thursday, in Abuja, following approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Of these deserving persons who signed to be Nigerians, 208 were conferred citizenship status by naturalisation, while the remaining 78 by registration after they officially recited the oath of allegiance and the Nigerian national pledge during the ceremony held at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, while speaking at the ceremony, directed the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to immediately issue the new Nigerians with their citizenship certificates as appropriate to enable them begin to enjoy their new status, wherever they reside in the country.
The president urged them “to endeavour to make positive contributions to the different communities they reside, and abide by the ideals of the nation”
Buhari said the ceremony was a constitutional requirement aimed to remove the tag of “statelessness” on every bonafide citizen of the country.
You are expected to abide by the ideals and institutions of the Nigerian national flag, anthem, pledge, and respect for all constituted authorities.
”All those concerned with immigration matters are to offer our new citizens quick legal identification. Also, their local governments should assist with their integration in the local community to enable them enjoy all the entitlements of a Nigerian citizen,” he said.
In exercising the constitutional powers conferred on him, by chapter III sections 25-31 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the president told the new citizens that Nigeria is a nation united by the principles of opportunity, equality, and liberty as enshrined in the constitution.
”No matter where you come from, or what faith you practice, this country is now your country. Our history is now your history, and our traditions are now your traditions. Nigeria is your home and pride and joy.
”In line with our transformational ideals of strict adherence to due process and transparent procedures, the ministry of interior ensured that only deserving persons were recommended to the Federal Executive Council to be conferred with Nigerian citizenship.”
President Buhari recounted that the Federal Government in 2020 adopted the National Action Plan to eradicate statelessness and accordingly, the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, inaugurated the high-level steering committee to eradicate statelessness in Nigeria by 2024.
”This ceremony, therefore, is a further demonstration of the Federal Government’s commitment and determination to remove as many people as possible from statelessness.
”In this regard, I will like to reiterate our commitment to the strategic role Nigeria plays in the comity of nations, in its unwavering quest for greater human integration, towards ensuring peace and prosperity.”
Minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, earlier, revealed that the foreigners had gone through a series of thorough checks by the nation’s security agencies before being considered qualified and deserving of Nigerian citizenship.
He said the Federal Government was determined to encourage high-net-worth individuals as well as give recognition to other qualified foreigners in the country in the bid to make Nigeria a destination of choice for investment opportunities.
The minister also urged them to guide their privileged status jealously as the citizenship of Nigeria also confers on them corresponding responsibilities to contribute their quota to facilitate the development of Nigeria generally.
The 1999 Nigeria Constitution prescribed three ways in which anyone can acquire Nigerian citizenship. They include citizenship by birth, citizenship by registration; and citizenship by naturalisation.
Section 25 of the Nigerian constitution, explains in detail those individuals who are eligible for Nigerian citizenship, they include individuals that are born in the territory of Nigeria after 1 October 1960 that have at least a parent or grandparent who belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to the geographical location known as Nigeria.
This subsection lays emphasis on the word ‘indigenous’ to Nigeria, which means that you must have blood ties to Nigeria, individuals born outside of Nigeria whose parents or grandparents were or are citizens of Nigeria are eligible to apply for citizenship of Nigeria by birth.
This subsection deals with citizenship by birth via descent, which indicates that one must have blood ties in order to be a Nigerian citizen by birth.
The second way is through citizenship by registration, in which citizenship is covered under section 26 of the Nigerian constitution.
An individual could be issued a certificate of citizenship of Nigeria if they satisfy all of the following conditions, including that the person must be of good character.
The candidate requires two persons to testify before this statement; one of them should be a religious minister.
The person expresses a clear desire to be resident in the country. This can be done by fulfilling the residency requirements necessary to qualify as a citizen.