Loss of citizenship, which can also be referred to as loss of nationality, involves one ceasing to be a citizen of a country under the nationality law of that country. When this happens, the governing body involuntarily takes away citizenship from a person whose acts and conduct have been confirmed to be inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution.
How Can a Citizen Lose Their Citizenship in Nigeria?
Loss of nationality is one of the most sensitive and life-changing decisions that can be taken against an individual. Here are some of the conditions that can warrant a loss of citizenship in Nigeria:
- A citizen can lose citizenship if caught spying against their country
- Committing criminal offenses other than minor offenses that attract more than two years imprisonment.
- Serving in a foreign military or under a foreign government
- Committing an act of treason or attempting to overthrow a government by force and has been convicted by a court or tribunal.
- When the individual is found guilty of engaging in acts of disloyalty to the country.
- Trading or assisting an enemy of the country during a time of war with the intention of causing damage to the interest of Nigeria.
- Voluntary renunciation of citizenship
Renunciation of Citizenship in Nigeria
Section 9 (1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states, “Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his/her Nigerian citizenship, shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation.”
From the provision of the constitution above, it is clearly seen that a renunciation is a voluntary act of giving up one’s citizenship or nationality for another.
Reasons Why People Renounce Citizenship
Although Section 28 of the 1999 constitution permits dual citizenship in Nigeria, it could also cause a person to relinquish his citizenship, particularly if such a person is not a Nigerian citizen by birth or has acquired nationality in another country.
Sections 66 (1), 107 (1) (a), 137 (1) (a) and 182 (1) (a) of the 1999 constitution state, “Any candidate vying for elective political offices are disqualified on the basis of voluntary acquisition of citizenship of another country other than Nigeria.”
Therefore, any person intending to vying for any elective political position in Nigeria must renounce his/her citizenship of the other country before attempting to contest.
As far back as the 18th century, conscription — which is a compulsory enlistment into military services, has made people renounce their citizenship. Over the centuries, this practice roused several objections on varied grounds ranging political, religious and philosophical.
It was also perceived to be a form of human rights violation. Several persons who were conscripted eventually evaded service by leaving the country. As of the early 21st century, many countries no longer conscripted soldiers.
Gradually the practice of conscription has been abolished in different countries, but the government still wields power to resume it in a state of war or crisis.
Oath of Allegiance
When a person pledges his loyalty to another country, he/she has indirectly relinquished the citizenship of the previous country. This act can be done by joining the armed forces of another country or accepting jobs where an oath of allegiance or other forms of allegiance declaration is required.
Consequences of Losing/Renouncing One’s Nigerian Citizenship
Here are some of the dire consequences of loss of nationality or renouncing one’s citizenship in Nigeria:
- Franchise — the right to vote and be voted for is automatically relinquished. That is, the individual loses the ability to contest any political position or vote in favour of a preferred aspirant.
- The Federal Government ceases its responsibility to protect or assist the individual, peradventure he/she travels overseas.
- The citizenship of children born to such individuals would also be relinquished as well because the parent(s) is no longer a citizen.
- The individual no longer has access to apply for Federal Government jobs.
- The individual loses the right to unrestricted movement within the country and the freedom to travel into and out of the country at will.