THE TERM NATIONALITY UNDER NIGERIAN LAW

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GENERAL INTRODUCTION

Someone’s nationality is their legal relationship to a particular country, in which a person is either born, or because his or her parents are citizens of that country. It is the country that has jurisdiction over that person, the country that is legally responsible for protecting him or her for as long as he or she remains under its jurisdiction. The rights that are afforded to a person, and the responsibilities that are attached to those rights, vary depending on the country in which the person is born.
Nationality is a threshold issue in modern nation-states, dependent or independent. The basic ideaof Nationality evokes a necessity of a legal force attached thereto. States have entrenched the legal framework on Nationality into their respective constitutions, which are by their nature fundamental laws. Nigeria is no exception. Nigerian constitutions from independence have had provisions on Nationality.The effect of such provisions necessitates the entrenchment of fundamental rights of citizens in Chapter IV and the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy in Chapter IIof the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). The provisions proper to Nationality are housed in Chapter III. Nationality is predicated to and tied with rights, privileges, benefits and obligations.A citizen of a country is a person who has rights and duties in that particular country. The 1999 Nigerian Constitution provides for three ways by which one can become a Nigerian citizen: by birth, by registration, and by naturalization. A person who is an alien in a state cannot stand on equal footing with a citizen of the said state. Nigerian citizens are entitled to fundamental rights and privileges wherever they live in Nigeria so that in places other than their towns or cities of their birth or birth of their ancestors they should not feel deprived of their Nationality rights. Thus, citizens are vested with rights such as rights to life and dignity; personal liberty; fair hearing; private and family life; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, freedom of movement, freedom from discrimination, and acquisition and ownership of property. In addition to these civil and political rights are also economic, social and cultural rights that would make for a good and quality living

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